Our surveys of Twitter users
Since 2013, the Bologna team of webpoleu (Professor Cristian Vaccari and Dr. Augusto Valeriani) has developed and perfected a method for surveying representative samples of Twitter users who engaged with particular conversations during a certain period of time. The method, first pioneered by Leticia Bode of Georgetown University and colleagues, consists of the following steps:
- Crawling public content on Twitter for keywords relevant to our research interests (e.g. names of parties, party leaders, or candidates) in a certain period of time
- Extrapolating the usernames who posted at least one relevant keyword
- Drawing random samples of those users
- Contacting these users on Twitter to ask them to take a survey
- Recording Informed consent as part of the survey
- Rendering the survey data entirely anonymous to preserve respondents’ privacy
In accordance with the overall goals of the project, our surveys aim to understand how respondents use digital and social media in combination with traditional media to get and share information on politics as well as to engage with politics in a variety of ways that take place both online and in face-to-face contests.
So far, we have conducted surveys in Australia, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The results of these surveys have already been presented in two published works (“Political Expression and Action on Social Media: Exploring the Relationship Between Lower- and Higher-Threshold Political Activities Among Twitter Users in Italy” and “Social media and political communication. A survey of Twitter users during the 2013 Italian general election” and various conference and working papers.
If you have been contacted and invited to take part in one of our surveys, you can direct any queries to Cristian Vaccari via email or directly on Twitter. Please rest assured that we will not contact you more than once unless you allow us to further contact you, and that we will treat any data that you will provide according to the best ethical standards in the social science.
We are very grateful for your collaboration. This research could not happen without you!