Differentiated Information Flows: Social Media Curation Practices in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections
Digital media enable political actors to engage in strategic information curation. This study analyzes the linking practices of U.S. presidential candidates running in the 2016 election. Using exploratory data analysis and confirmatory tests of hyperlinked domains, we find that presidential candidates curate information flows that are distinct by party and even within party. Though candidates in both parties share a common set of links primarily via mainstream media outlets, Republican candidates also link to a set of news and information sites that their Democratic counterparts do not link to, and vice versa. Republican candidates have distinct hyperlinking practices during the surfacing and primary stages of the election cycle relative to other Republican candidates, suggesting that just as candidates differentiate themselves in terms of issue ownership, they also do so in terms of information ownership. Finally, the candidates use Twitter and Facebook differently in terms of the frequency of links and the diversity of those links.