Politicians driving online discussions: Are institutionalized influencers top twitter users?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionResearchpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Embeddedness of politicians and political organizations in a discussion defines its level of institutionalization and creates a public arena for collaboration between publics and institutional actors. Thus, testing whether traditional hierarchies (in terms of presence of politically institutionalized actors) show up in online discussions deserves scholarly research. Moreover, it is also important to see whether more democratic societies show patterns of public involvement of politically institutionalized users that would differ from those in more authoritarian contexts. To assess the ‘influencer’ status of politically institutionalized actors on Twitter cross-culturally, we have selected conflictual Twitter discussions in Germany, the USA, and Russia, all based on violent inter-ethnic clashes. Using vocabulary-based web crawling, we collected data on them and formed samples of top users selected by four activity metrics and five network metrics, to assess the positions of political users in the top lists and correlations of user status with their top list ranks. To this, we added qualitative assessment of presence of political users in comparative perspective. Our results show that, in all the cases, presence of political actors in online discussions is scarce; also, political actors tend to fail to link user groups or stay in the center of discussion. There is also meaningful divergence of Russia from the pattern that Germany and the USA show: while in these countries politicians gain user attention based on content, in Russia it is the status itself that matters, and political users tend to gain weight in the discussion structure despite low attention levels.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternet Science - 4th International Conference, INSCI 2017, Proceedings
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages16
Volume10673 LNCS
ISBN (Print)9783319702834
StatePublished - 2017
EventInternational Conference on Internet Science - Thessaloniki, Greece
Duration: 21 Nov 201723 Nov 2017
Conference number: 4

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10673 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceInternational Conference on Internet Science
Abbreviated titleINSCI 2017
Internet address

Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


  • Influencers
  • Political actors
  • Twitter
  • User metrics
  • Web crawling

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