Digital Traces in Context| Reuniting a Divided Public? Tracing the TTIP Debate on Twitter and in Traditional Media

Gerret von Nordheim, Karin Boczek, Lars Koppers, Elena Erdmann


The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has evoked fundamental opposition in various European countries and in the United States Citizens’ initiatives and NGOs opposed the agreement, whereas many politicians from major parties supported it during the first years of negotiations. This contrast raises the question of whether the issue is being discussed differently on social media and traditional media. Using a comparative approach, we examine differences between the Twitter and traditional newspaper coverage to understand Twitter’s role within the overall media ecology. We found that tweets containing #TTIP reflect more unique events than national newspapers, although Twitter’s overall agenda is similar to traditional media’s. Over time, the sentiment of discussion on Twitter becomes more polarized and less balanced. The shift to negative sentiment goes hand in hand with a mobilization of TTIP opponents. The case of TTIP shows that integrated large-scale content analysis of tweets and newspaper coverage is valuable for analyzing the distinct characteristics of different media.


Twitter, TTIP, social media, content analysis, sentiment analysis, media ecology

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