A Bad Workman Blames His Tweets: The Consequences of Citizens’ Uncivil Twitter Use When Interacting with Party Candidates

Yannis Theocharis, Pablo Barberá, Zoltán Fazekas, Sebastian Adrian Popa, Olivier Parnet

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Existing studies focusing on politicians' adoption of Twitter have found that they use it primarily as a broadcasting tool. We argue that citizens' impolite and/or uncivil behavior is one possible explanation for such decisions. Social media conversations are rife with harassment and politicians are a prime target. This alters the incentive structure of engaging in dialogue on social media. We use Spanish, Greek, German, and U.K. candidates' tweets sent during the run‐up to the recent European Parliament elections, and rely on automated text analysis and machine learning methods to measure their level of civility. Our contribution is an actor‐oriented theory of political dialogue that incorporates Twitter's specific affordances, clarifying how and why Twitter's democratic promise may be limited.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Communications
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1007-1031
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

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