Purposes of the Project
"Patterns of Facebook Interactions around Insular and Cross-Partisan Media Sources in the Run-up to Italian Elections" was conceived as a follow up of “Mapping Italian News Media Political Coverage in the Lead-up of 2018 General Election”. MINE aimed at creating a comprehensive map of the political news coverage created by the Italian traditional, all-digital and alternative newsmedia in the lead up of 2018 general election. Published in May 2018, the research report highlights how a populist narrative dominated the news (both in terms of volume of coverage and Facebook engagement) in the run up of March election and pinpoints the diverging patterns of Facebook interaction employed by different partisan communities to amplify through redistribution the reach of contents aligned with their worldview while trying to reframe negative coverage of the the party they supported through critical comments.
The project broaden and enhance MINE results by addressing new research questions that can be answered only by querying the URL Shares dataset provided by Facebook to twelve teams of selected scholars. Grounded in the emergent conceptual milieu of media-as-resources to exercise political agency, MINE original dataset proved to be useful to illustrate the diverging patterns of interaction around different media sources and content.
However, publicly available data left open the crucial question related to the behaviour of online partisan communities as strategically organized versus spontaneously grass-root. Drawing on results that directly speaks to the existing literature on echo-chambers, news preferential exposure, attention economy and strategic amplification, we designed a set of measures and RQs to tackle this issue.
These findings raise a new relevant question: is there an organized structure supporting the observed patterns of amplification and reframing of political news stories? Or, conversely, what we observed is the result of the spontaneous behaviour of loosely organized and highly committed individuals?
Based on existing literature, methods and results of the MINE project we designed a set of measures and related research questions articulated in three areas: (1) social infrastructure (pages/groups weight in share and views, interactions from abroad, coordinated reporting campaigns), (2) patterns of interaction (shares and comments without clicks, reactions other than likes), (3) exposure (multiple views by the same user, news-feed algorithm).
The project will be carried on at the Department of Communication Sciences, Humanities and International Studies of the University of Urbino Carlo Bo by a team coordinated by scholars with a strong and widely recognized expertise in the analysis of social media and political communication.
Supported [in part] by a grant from Social Science Research Council. Data and tools provided by Facebook.