What are we missing? An empirical exploration in the structural biases of hashtag-based sampling on Twitter

A Research Paper by Pieter Verdegem, published by First Monday
by Evelien D’heer, Baptist Vandersmissen, Wesley De Neve, Pieter Verdegem, Rik Van de Walle.
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Abstract

The hashtag is a recognized and often used method to collect Twitter messages. However, it has its limits with respect to the inclusion of follow-messages, or @replies, that do not contain a hashtag. This paper explored to what extent the inclusion of non-hashtagged responses affected the study of interactions between Twitter users. We drew from the Twitter debate on the 2014 Belgian elections, collected under the #vk2014 hashtag. Our dataset included non-hashtagged responses to assess (1) how they differ from hashtagged responses; and, (2) how this affects the conversation network. The findings showed that (1) hashtagged responses were more likely to include other interactive elements (e.g., hyperlinks); and, (2) the inclusion of non-hashtagged responses generated larger and more reciprocal networks. However, central users further strengthened their position in the network.

 

Keywords: Twitter; Methodology; Hashtag; Elections; Conversation

 

Full Text: HTML

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i2.6353

Pieter Verdegem

About

Pieter Verdegem is a Senior Lecturer in Media Theory at the University of Westminster, London. He holds a PhD in Communication Sciences (Ghent University, 2009), with a thesis on government strategies in the information society. From 2011 until early 2012 he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University, Sweden. From 2012 until August 2016 he was an Assistant Professor in New Media and ICT in the Department of Communication Sciences at Ghent University, Belgium.

Details

Date
22nd February 2017
Published By
First Monday
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