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What the hashtag? A content analysis of Canadian politics on Twitter

Small, T. A.
Information Communication & Society, 14 (6), (S. 872–895).
2011

Twitter is the latest social networking tool said to be reshaping politics. Twitter allows subscribers to write a 140-character status update, called a ‘tweet’. This research analyzes the intersection of microblogging and Canadian politics. There is little scholarship on the political aspects of Twitter. This paper seeks to fill this gap through a content analysis of the most popular Canadian political hashtag, #cdnpoli. Designated by a ‘hash’ symbol (#), a hashtag is a keyword assigned to information that describes a tweet and aides in searching. With 50 million tweets per day, hashtags are central to organizing information on Twitter. Hashtags organize discussion around specific topics or events. Political hashtags came to prominence in events like the 2009 Iran presidential election. Indeed, #iranelection was the number one news topic on Twitter in 2009. The popular literature suggests that Twitter is a democratic media because it allows for on-the-ground reporting of breaking news and democratic activism. This analysis shows that informing is the primary function of a political hashtag such as #cdnpoli. Political dialogue and reporting is rare. Contributors scour the internet for relevant online information on Canadian politics and use #cdnpoli as a dissemination feed. The value of a political hashtag derives from the real-time nature of the information shared.

Zitation (APA)

Small, T. A. (2011). What the hashtag? A content analysis of Canadian politics on Twitter. Information Communication & Society, 14(6), 872–895.