10.2 Barbera (2015): Birds of the Same Feather Tweet Together

  • Q: Whats the topic of this study?

  • Barberá (2015): Birds of the same feather tweet together: Bayesian ideal point estimation using Twitter data

  • What is the research question?
    • General: Is the structure of the social networks in which people are embedded a source of information about their ideological positions?
    • Specific: Can we predict ideology from follower networks on twitter?
  • What is the hypothesis?
    • Yes we can vs. no we can’t.
  • What data do they use?
    • Twitter users and the network among them (who follows whom)
    • Sample size: n = 301,537 users in the United States, n = 135,015 in the UK, n = 123,846 in Spain, n = 150,143 in Italy, n = 49,142 in Germany, and n = 96,624 in the Netherlands
  • What is their finding?
    • Estimated positions of legislators and political parties replicate conventional measures of ideology
    • Method is also able to successfully classify individuals who state their political preferences publicly and a sample of users matched with their party registration records
    • Useful to examine ideological clustering in 2012 US presidential election campaign
  • Q: What struck you about this study? What did you find interesting?

  • Insight: Using a new data source to learn about a classic topic


Barberá, P. 2015. “Birds of the Same Feather Tweet Together: Bayesian Ideal Point Estimation Using Twitter Data.” Polit. Anal. cambridge.org.