Social Media and Election Campaigns in Europe: Increasingly Negative, Populist, and Personalized?

Event Date: 

Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 3:30pm

Event Date Details: 

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Join us in welcoming Prof. Klinger after her talk on the SSMS lawn. Refreshments will be served


Relating to theories of dissonant public spheres and affective publics, the talk presents results from a study comparing the 2014 and 2019 EP elections as well as preliminary insights from the very recent German national elections in September 2021. The first study analyzed negativity, dramatization and populist content in party posts on Facebook in the 2014 and 2019 European Parliament Election campaigns in 12 countries. Results show that negative emotions, negative campaigning, dramatization and populist content have increased from 2014 to 2019. Posts evoking negative emotions, dramatization and negative campaigning also yield more user engagement. Going negative and exaggerating as well as sensationalizing messages thus makes perfect sense from a strategic perspective, because parties reap more likes, shares and comments, making their messages travel farther and deeper in social networks. It seems that affective and dissonant communication does not emerge unintentionally, but is a result of strategic campaigning. These findings are then discussed in the light of a project monitoring the German National election campaigns 2021.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ulrike Klinger is professor for digital democracy at the European New School of Digital Studies at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany and an associated researcher at the Weizenbaum Institut for the Networked Society in Berlin. Her research focuses on political and digital communication. After her PhD on media pluralism in defective democracies (2010), she has worked extensively on the transformation of digital public spheres, the role of digital media in election campaigns, and the impact of technologies on public communication (e.g. algorithms, social bots). 
Ulrike will be a visiting scholar at the Center for Information Technology and Society CITS at UCSB until March 15, 2022.