The polyphony of social media

What’s on the majority's mind? For anyone doing research on public opinion, surveys and polls used to be the methods of choice. The advent of social media is paving the way for a plethora of new possibilities.

Sebastian Berg, Tim König and Ann-Kathrin Koster discuss the hashtag – a keyword preceded by the hash symbol (#) channeling information on Twitter – as a means of studying public sentiment and salient topics. In summer 2018, footballer Mesut Özil's anti-racist accusations issued a public debate using the Twitter hashtag #metwo to gain traction. The study shows that these tweets reveal a much more nuanced and dynamic picture than conventional representations of opinion would.

"Political Opinion Formation as Epistemic Practice: The Hashtag Assemblage of #metwo" by WZB researchers Sebastian Berg, Tim König, and Ann-Kathrin Koster, a fellow at the Schaufler Kolleg at Technische Universität Dresden, published in Media and Communication (2020, vol. 8, h. 4. DOI: 10.17645/mac.v8i4.3164).

The publication is featured in the current issue of WZB-Mitteilungen [in German].