News Sharing on Twitter: A Nationally Comparative Study

Axel Bruns, Brenda Moon, Felix Münch, Jan-Hinrik Schmidt, Lisa Merten, Hallvard Moe, Sander Schwartz

Abstract


The utility of Twitter as a medium for public engagement with news events has been well documented. Research has particularly highlighted the importance of Twitter as a space for the rapid assembly of ad hoc publics (Bruns & Burgess, 2015) around breaking news events, aided also by the availability of hashtags as a flexible mechanism for collecting all tweets marked as relevant to a specific topic (Rambukkana, 2015). In this, Twitter arguably even surpasses Facebook, as its flat, non-reciprocal, weak-tie network facilitates the dissemination of news more effectively than the hierarchical, reciprocal, strong-tie structure implemented by Facebook (Dewan & Kumaraguru, 2014). Much less is known about the platform’s performance in day-to-day news sharing and the news engagement practices of users outside of periods of heightened attention.

Addressing this gap in the literature, this paper presents the first results from a major, long-term, internationally comparative study of news sharing on Twitter. Gathering Twitter data since mid-2012, we have managed – within the limitations set by the public Twitter API – to capture all tweets linking to a large selection of news sites in Australia, Germany, and the Nordic countries; our analysis of these data shows the distribution of attention to these sites, the dynamics of such marketshare over time, and the structure of each nation’s news-sharing user populations on Twitter, as well as comparing these patterns across the countries against the backdrop of their respective media ecologies.

Keywords


news, social media, Twitter, international comparisons, longitudinal study

Full Text:

PDF