Energizing the alt-right:
Measuring the resonance of Donald Trump's 'official' tweets within r/The_Donald.
Ysabel Gerrard, Sal Hagen & Guido van der Meer.
Summary of Key Findings
Research finding 1:
spikes in the popularity of posts in r/The_Donald are rarely 'energized' by Trump's tweets. Instead, they are triggered by his mainstream media presence, and often by news reports about his tweets.
This research project was centrally motivated by Trump's recent interview with the New York Times
, where he denied the extent to which he 'energizes' the 'alt-right' movement. He claimed: 'It's not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to find out why' (ref). Our research took up Trump's challenge, by analysing moments of 'energy', to borrow from Trump, within the r/The_Donald subreddit. The central aim of our project was to know whether Donald Trump's 'official' tweets caused, what we call, 'spikes' of energy within r/The_Donald, between 8th October 2016 to 5th January 2017. By 'energy', we are referring to surges in comments in the
r/The_Donald is a subreddit (a sub-section of the social media platform Reddit), which is largely dedicated to the support of Donald Trump: the United States President-Elect. Although the 'alt-right' movement is difficult to pin down and define, particularly because there are conflicting ideologies within the group itself (see ref), alt-right discourses and language evidently dominate r/The_Donald. Thus, r/The_Donald can be defined, in part, as an 'alt-right' social media space.
Although Donald Trump communicates through various social media accounts, and through more 'traditional' media channels, our research focuses on his official Twitter account, @RealDonaldTrump, as his usage of Twitter is particularly prolific (see refs).
- Questions around persona/'versions' of Trump
2. Initial Data Sets
We worked with two datasets: Donald Trump's 'official' tweets, at @realdonaldtrump, and data from the r/The_Donald subreddit, which was collected between 8th October 2016 and 5th January 2017.
3. Research Questions
Research Question 1:
how do Trump's 'official' tweets resonate within the subreddit r/The_Donald?
- Used Twitter's built-in search engine, Advanced Search, to...
Describe your findings. Consider any counter-intuitive findings.
Discuss and interpret the implications of your findings and make recommendations for future research and application, be it societal, academic or technical (or some combination).
Present a summary of what you have found, and its significance.
Future directions for research:
List your references in a standard academic bibliographic format.