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Visualizing Public Opinion in Croatia Based on Available Social Network Content

[journal article]

Ševa, Jurica; Okreša Đurić, Bogdan; Schatten, Markus

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Abstract In the last decade advances of computer technologies have lead towards a technological reality where the line between information consumers and information producers is blurred. This technological omnipresence allows for unprecedented data creation capabilities. Based on various data sources, it seems humans have fully embraced data-generating activities. One such activity is using online social network applications, like Facebook or Twitter in almost all aspects of their lives. One of the main features of online social network applications is perceived freedom of speech, individuality and privacy, even though every application has some special features. Therefore, content generated using these services presents the public with interesting insights in private life of people and their attitudes towards public affairs. Social network applications are active the most during specific public events aimed at the massive public. Due to its brevity, ease of use and frequency, Twitter is an interesting social network application for research and analysis. Other than allowing almost exclusively short messages (up to 140 characters), a tweet (a Twitter post) can contain location of the message sender as well as a graphic to accompany the textual message. The textual part of the message may contain so called hashtags – keywords used for indexing and easy identification of a subject the message is related to. These hashtags allow us to group messages related to a specific event. Recent governmental elections held in Croatia were very popular amongst the Croatian Twitter community. Usage of hashtags allowed us to identify the right messages and thus most-used words to describe this event and potentially identify how people felt when talking, i.e. writing, about politics and the held elections. Furthermore, geolocation information, optionally embedded in a tweet, makes it possible to analyze which keywords were used in which parts of Croatia, all pertaining to the held governmental elections. Public opinion is only a few tweets away, but are the results similar to the election results? If tweet-based opinion can be constructed, does it differ from the real results? These and similar questions will be addressed in this paper.
Keywords political attitude; public opinion; social network; social media; twitter; Internet; data capture; opinion research; voting behavior; Croatia
Classification Interactive, electronic Media; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Methods and Techniques of Data Collection and Data Analysis, Statistical Methods, Computer Methods
Free Keywords web mining
Document language English
Publication Year 2016
Page/Pages p. 22-35
Journal European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities, 5 (2016) 1
ISSN 2285-4916
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works