Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
B 5: Social Media & Society
Thursday, 19/Mar/2015:
15:45 - 16:45

Session Chair: Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences
Location: Room 147
Fachhochschule Köln/ Cologne University of Applied Sciences <7br> Claudiusstr. 1, 50678 Cologne


Social network sites and smartphone's news alerts as an alternative means for news consumption in Israel

Yaron Ariel, Vered Malka

Yezreel Valley College, Israel

Relevance and research question: This study examines the extent to which social network sites and smartphone's news alerts function as a new way of news consumption in Israel, either as an alternative to mass media, or as an additional means.

Methods and data: Data is based on a representative sample (N=508) of the Israeli population aged 15+ (maximum sample error 4.4%). Using an 80 questions- long questionnaire, this research examined various patterns of news consumption via traditional media, as well as via new media (mainly social network sites and smartphone's news alerts), among different age groups and other demographic variables.

Results: Findings reveal that despite of smartphones' ubiquitous presence in Israel, there is a negative correlation (r = -.32, p < .001) between the frequency of smartphone usages and respondents' age. Television viewing has been able to maintain its role as a central source for news (68% of the respondents reported television as their main source for daily news). Nonetheless, ANOVA tests reveal a more complex picture. For example, while adults (aged 45-55) are high consumer of news across all media platform - their daily news come mostly from traditional media such as TV (88%), radio (81%) and printed newspaper (57%). In contrast, younger audiences (aged 15-25) receive their daily news mostly from social network sites (57%) and smartphones' news alerts (40%). Thus, a negative correlation (r = -.14, p < .01) was found between the frequency of keeping updates with current events via social network sites and respondents' age. Findings also suggest that age correlates with the tendency of 'cross-platform consumption' when following important news events.

Added value: During the last few years, social network sites and similar smartphone applications (i.e. WhatsApp) became popular means for interacting and socializing. The findings of this study suggest that these media also serve as an alternative way for news consumption, especially among relatively young audiences. Furthermore, the characteristics of online media enable users flexibility on the time of consuming and the ability of sharing content on their own terms.

Social media in election campaigns: Different channels, different patterns?

Stephen Quinlan, Tobias Gummer, Joss Roßmann, Christof Wolf

GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany

Relevance & Research Question

Social media is now a constant in the daily lives of many people. Accordingly, some forms of social media presence are now considered as a necessary component of modern election campaigns. Yet it is unclear which parties and politicians are using social media, and furthermore, if the patterns of use differ depending on the social media channel?

Methods & Data

We explore the use of Twitter and Facebook by candidates in the 2013 German national election combining data from the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) candidate survey (N=1,130) and unique data gathered by GESIS on the Twitter and Facebook use of all candidates that stood in the 2013 German election (N=2,707). Combining these two sets of data allows us to append socio-demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral data with social media data and provide a unique insight into politicians’ use of social media. We devise a series of logistic regressions to explore the determinants and the differences in the patterns of Twitter and Facebook use by politicians.


Our results show that use of social media by candidates is driven by both political and socio-demographic factors and that the patterns of use differ between channels. We find that: a) while Twitter is used by a highly selective subgroup of candidates, Facebook is more widely-used; b) the use of social media is generally the purview of younger candidates; c) Politicians affiliated to the AfD tend to use social media the least, while Pirate Party candidates are strongly predisposed to use Twitter in particular; and d) candidates with greater resources are more likely to use social media.

Added Value

First, the paper has implications for understanding modern electoral campaigning and contributes to the growing literature on social media’s impact on politics, particularly campaigning and the developing literature on the differences between social media channels. Second, our results rely on the total of candidates from the relevant parties and, thus, remedy shortcomings of more selective choices of data. Third, combining survey with social media data enables us to perform in-depth analyses and control for additional variables.
Quinlan-Social media in election campaigns-153.pptx

Users' best friend during a national crisis? WhatsApp and its roles in the lives of Israeli citizens in wartime

Vered Malka, Yaron Ariel, Ruth Avidar

Yezreel Valley College, Israel

Relevance and research question: This study looks at the roles that WhatsApp, the popular smartphone application, played in the lives of Israeli citizens, who were exposed to war menaces during July 2014. Research questions focused on the ways in which citizens used the application, the attributed effects of that usage on their lives, and the possible connections between users' profile, patterns of usage, and perceived implications.

Methods and data: data is based on a representative survey of 500 Israeli citizens aged 16-75, all of whom are smartphone users (maximum sample error 4.5%). The survey was conducted during the third week of the military operation "Protective Edge", which took place between Israel and Hamas in the summer of 2014.

Results: Our findings suggest that WhatsApp played a central multi-functional role in the lives of its users during the wartime, functioning as a mass, as well as an interpersonal communication channel. Participants used the application on a daily basis for various purposes: getting news and updates regarding the war (68%); checking on their loved ones (43%); delivering humorous-satirical messages (50%); spreading war-related rumors (17%); helping to promote voluntary aid initiations (27%). Users expressed their beliefs that the application enabled them to stay updated and 'in the know', helped them calm down, and deepened their communal and national sentiments. Findings also indicate that while using WhatsApp during wartime was common among all group ages, only young user (16-35) used it for news updates as an alternative to traditional new media (similar results were found regarding other social media, e.g. Facebook).

Added value: This research is among the first ones to look at the roles that a popular smartphone application played in the lives of citizens under threats of war. While findings regarding WhatsApp and similar applications usages have been collected for the last few years, no research has yet exposed its centrality under extreme circumstances. Further on, this work suggests that WhatsApp may be thought of as a unique combination between mass and interpersonal communication channels.

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