May 09, 2023
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Posted by NCID
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Mirko Draca, professor at Warwick University, visited NCID to give a seminar entitled “The Returns to Viral Media: The Case of U.S. Campaign Contributions.”  Draca explained that his research tries to study whether politicians in the U.S. can use social media, specifically Twitter, as a viable tool for raising campaign donations. According to the professor, he runs this kind of simple regression with daily campaign contributions on the left-hand side of the regression and then the daily likes on Twitter on the right-hand side: “The two kinds of big interesting findings that we get from the paper are the strong correlation between campaigns contributions and Twitter likes, but it’s in general generated entirely by likes at the top of the distribution, so if you slice up the data such that where we`ve got sort of these variables that represent when politicians go viral on Twitter, the entire Twitter effect is accounted for this kind of falling in the top 10 percent of the likes distribution”.

Politicians can make money from Twitter, but they must go big, be popular, and go viral. So it is crucial to win campaign contributions. And how do you go viral? “We tend to see that it strongly correlates with negative messaging. When we do a text analysis of the content of the tweets, negativity comes up as the most significant correlate of likes across the data”.

Professor Draca added that the main contribution here is that “What we have in this particular instance of the use of social media and politics is potentially a big incentive for negative behaviors, so specifically sending out negative messages on social media to raise campaign contributions.”