Hillary Clinton at a press conference
Criticism by documents posted by global whistleblower WikiLeaks on Twitter played a key role in the failure of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 US presidential race, an analysis of tweets suggests.
The study, which analysed viral tweets during the final two months of the 2016 election race, showed that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, was much more heavily criticised on the microblogging site as compared to her rival Trump.
Posts relating to WikiLeaks were the most common form of attack on social media for Clinton, who was also heavily criticized on Twitter over an FBI investigation into her use of a private email server. "Our findings reveal a wide disparity between traditional media, which was very critical of Donald Trump, and social media, where Hillary Clinton was much worse off," said lead researcher Walid Magdy from the University of Edinburgh.
An analysis of the top 50 most retweeted posts each day between September 1 and November 8 revealed that there were thrice as many posts attacking Clinton than posts in her favour. By contrast, viral tweets relating to Trump were split equally in favour and against his campaign, the researchers said.
The results will be presented at the Social Informatics 2017 conference in Oxford in September. Further, the posts from Trump's social media campaign and his supporters had a more positive tone than that of Clinton, with effective reach for slogans, policy promises and campaigning for swing states. Whereas, tweets that backed Clinton compared her with Trump and attacked Trump rather than praising Clinton. For the study, the team used computer analysis to analyse the top viral tweets. They analysed almost 3,500 posts, which together were retweeted more than 25 million times.
Tweets were labelled as being favourable to Trump, Clinton or neither.
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