Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Political Science

Additional Departmental Affiliation

Communication

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

In 2011, Congressman Anthony Weiner demonstrated the risks politicians face when utilizing Twitter. While past scholarship regarding Twitter has focused on the impact of the tweets candidates share with their voters, academic attention has not been afforded to the tweets candidates delete. This thesis seeks to delve further into the analysis of Twitter as a political campaign tool by examining the practice of tweet retraction. To achieve this end, this research presents two studies. The first analyzes the deleted tweets of members of the 112th Congress between May and November of 2012 in terms of quantity of retractions and the elapsed time before retraction. Quantitative analysis suggests that age and party ID are not strong predictors of the quantity of deleted tweets, but gender may have a relationship. The second study examines the deleted tweets of 2014 gubernatorial candidates, finding that Democrats tend to delete tweets more quickly than Republicans, while other demographic traits seem to have no effect. This analysis highlights an unexplored area of social media research that could prove extremely valuable in determining the processes politicians follow throughout the course of an election cycle.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Timothy Rich

Disciplines

American Politics | Social Influence and Political Communication | Social Media

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