Home > Research > Twitter General Election 2019

Martyn Harris and Mark Levene
Department of Computer Science and Information Systems
Birkbeck University of London

Social media platforms generate a vast amount of data on a daily basis, on a variety of topics and consequently represent a key source of information for anyone interested in a current snapshot of online presence in society. In recent years, there has been an increased amount of research into social media data across a wide variety of disciplines, including sociology, computer science, marketing, and political science.

Twitter is the most popular platform for academic research, as it provides limited access to data via a number of freely available Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Studies in social media can be framed by drawing on a wide-variety of theories, constructs and conceptual frameworks from a wide-variety of disciplines. Twitter is one of the main social media platforms used to promote views and opinions of people and communities on a wide variety of topics. One particular strand on which there is a large amount of traffic within Twitter is politics, where views are expressed on news events that take place. Often these days, it is quite common that the news starts on Twitter rather than outside it. For these reasons Twitter data has become a good source of data for studying and evaluting attitudes towards political parties and for parties to express their views directly through this medium. Many studies based on Twitter data look to evaluate attitudes towards certain political parties through the mining of Twitter data produced by individuals.

We conducted a study using Twitter data collected from Party Political Candidates (PPC) in the lead up to the 12th December 2019 Elections. Our study focuses on how politicians use Twitter to promote their policies and opinions on particular topics. The data was collected through the Twitter API, which is a small sample selection of tweets from the total population of all tweets. This research concentrates on a quantative analysis of political party tweets and the retweets through a time series analysis during the month leading up to the General Election. This post summarises our preliminary findings.