Interacting or Just Acting? -A Case Study of European, Korean, and American Politicians' Interactions with the Public on Twitter

  • Otterbacher, Jahna (Illinois Institute of Technology) ;
  • Shapiro, Matthew A. (Illinois Institute of Technology) ;
  • Hemphill, Libby (Illinois Institute of Technology)
  • Published : 2013.05.31


Social media holds the potential to facilitate vertical political communication by giving citizens the opportunity to interact directly with their representatives. However, skeptics claim that even when politicians use "interactive media," they avoid direct engagement with constituents, using technology to present a façade of interactivity instead of a genuine dialogue. This study explores how elected officials in three regions of the world are using Twitter to interact with the public. Using the Twitter activity of 15 officials over a period of six months, we show that in addition to the structural features of Twitter that are designed to promote interaction, officials rely on language to foster or to avoid engagement. We also provide evidence that the existence of interactive features does not guarantee interactivity.



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