#Inaug13 and Much More: Twitter Hashtags & American Politics

Twitter/Gov: Peak Inauguration Moment

For much of the past year, I’ve been tracking hashtags used for the American political process — elections, debates, and now the inauguration. Part of the reason is that I am still trying to persuade various communities (peers, scientists, researchers, clinicians, friends, relatives, etcetera) that social media has both interest, value, utility, and traction. I thought this was a big enough topic to illustrate this dramatically. I’m still finishing data collection, but a great deal of what I’m observing is distilled in this tweet, this quote from Obama’s inauguration speech earlier today.

Let’s just say there was a lot of debate, and a lot of name-calling, and both are quite evident in the tweets I’ve collected. While I’m not at the point of being ready to analyse what I’ve collected, I do have some observations from just looking at all this. Please note, this is all anecdotal, as I haven’t actually run the numbers yet, and some of this may change when I really do.

During the election, I was surprised several times. One surprise was when I noticed that the Democrats and the Republicans (or Obama supporters and Romney supporters) differed in some interesting ways in how they used Twitter. For the official party tweets, the Democrats had more variety of hashtags used than the Republicans. For the unofficial real-folk tweets there was more variety from both, with name-calling and rudeness from both parties, but more of the name-calling from the Romney supporters than from the Obama supporters. The Obama-supporters had more unique tweets, the Romney-supporters did a lot more retweeting of things someone else said.

What surprised me today was that some of this flipped. While there was a lot of tweeting going on from both sides, for today’s activities so far, the Republicans and tea-party Twitter streams shows much greater diversity of hashtags than the Democrats or Obama-supporters, who are using fewer hashtags than they have at any point previously. The name-calling, though? Is even more one-sided, and it’s the same side.

So, let me head back to gathering my data, and then let’s see what I find when I can actually dig into it. More to come! In the meantime, if you have any doubt whatsoever that Twitter has traction, check out these two tweets about the metrics from tweeting during the inauguration.


One response to “#Inaug13 and Much More: Twitter Hashtags & American Politics

  1. Pingback: “And I said, ‘Yeah, man. Totally!’”: The Obamacare Vloggers | Emerging Technologies Librarian

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