Study 10/05/2021

Reflections and Distortions – the Electoral Impact of Social Media in Europe

To analyse politics in our time, one must take into consideration the advancements in information technology, artificial intelligence – the terms and conditions that shape the digital public sphere. In the last two decades, social media has contributed to a remodeling of the citizens’ relation to politics. It has created a shift in the way political content is disseminated, which consequently affects the political function itself, and citizens’ understanding of political actors. It is therefore not just a matter of political communication, but also of political substance. The quantification of this effect is multidimensional, so its definition becomes elusive. Moreover, even though there is too much data available, no analysis of the phenomenon is sufficiently profound, given that the relevant technology advances at dizzying speeds.

Beyond public perception and despite the accompanying digital buzz, what is the tangible impact of social media on elections, and to what extent can it be quantified? What is social media’s overall political footprint? Are social media platforms capable of shaping an election result or are they just another means of political communication, voter mobilisation and fundraising—a digital community of commentary and criticism, or a medium for political relief? Can their evaluation serve as a predictor of election outcomes?

The publication aims to present new research data that will contribute to the emergence of new dimensions, to the analysis and evaluation of the phenomenon —both academically and politically— while also serving as a record of the relevant public debate in Europe.

This publication is produced by the Centre for International & European Political Economy & Governance (CIEPEG) at the University of Peloponnese (Department of Political Science and International Relations) with the support of the European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP). Co-funded by the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union and ENoP.

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