The Future of Politics on Twitter

The Rally The intersection of politics and pop culture
March 12, 2021

Politics-related tweets, especially those related to the COVID-19 pandemic, have boosted Twitter’s user numbers. The company’s new challenge is to gain users it will not have to boot for spreading misinformation...

Dr. Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics (IDDP) at George Washington University (GWU) and associate professor of political communication at GWU, said Twitter still has “a long way to go to clean up the platform.”

“My research very clearly suggests that incivility flourishes on Twitter and disinformation, hate speech, and harassment abound,” said Tromble.

While the IDDP’s goal is to broaden an understanding of digital media’s influence on public dialogue and opinion, Tromble is also the leader of a separate project initiated and funded by Twitter on measuring healthy conversation. This project is collecting data about how communities form around political discussions on Twitter and challenges that arise as the discussions develop. Tromble said the research group works with Twitter employees, but Twitter has no control over its research findings. All of the results from the project will be shared with the public.

“We had a lot of frustrating stops and starts with the company for quite a while. It was difficult for us to get our project off the ground. Company employees weren’t always responsive to us. Luckily, that has changed significantly in recent months. We’re working with a team of mostly new arrivals at Twitter who are proving very responsive,” said Tromble.

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