Thirty Years After the German Reunification—Exploring Stereotypes About East Germans on Twitter
Although further social category thinking on social media might harm the German democratic public sphere, the stereotyping of East Germans on social media has been under-researched so far. We combined computational text analysis and manual content analysis on N = 106,616 tweets to investigate the area of society to which the stereotypes apply, the kind of threat East Germans are described as, and what exact stereotypes exist. We show that stereotypic tweets about East Germans are relatively rare. East Germans are portrayed as a general political threat and are attributed right-wing attitudes, socioeconomic marginalization, and negative behaviors. The contextual stereotypes we found are in line with previous studies investigating traditional media and suggest that different groups, like Saxons, recur as targets of political stereotypes, depending on the events taking place. Practical implications of the results are discussed.