The Go-Betweens: Political Discussion Management Practices on Social Media Among Political Aides—A Comparative Study

Chen Sabag-Ben Porat, Sharon Haleva-Amir


Research on social media political communication with the public has neglected the important role of the intermediate layer. This article bridges the gap to enable an insider reflection on online political discussions between members of parliament (MPs) and the public. Using quantitative questionnaires, this study surveys intermediaries in Israel, Germany, and the United States to examine their political discussion management practices on social media, which indirectly reflect their MPs’ attitudes. Reading and responding to users’ comments, reflect a more tolerant and pro-discussion attitude, while the blocking of users and the deletion of comments reflect censorship and anti-discussion attitudes. Findings expose the political aides’ “deletion paradox,” which differentiates oppositional comments’ deletions, which they disapprove of, from plain comments’ deletion, which is an unavoidable necessity. The two-sided scale, developed for this study, on which each country is situated twice, according to its positive and negative political discussion management practices, reveals that the countries’ positions, on both sides of the scale, are an exact mirror image, the greater the pro-political discussion, the less the anti-political discussion, and vice versa.


political discussion, political discussion management, political aides, deletion paradox, social media, comparative research

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