“Where Did Their Tweets Go?”: A Quantitative Analysis of Parliamentarians “Missing Tweets” in Western Europe

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: This thesis examines the factors behind politicians' ‘missing tweets’. Missing tweets are posts that were once available on Twitter but are no longer accessible. Despite numerous studies on the Twitter behavior of politicians, few explore the dynamics around politicians’ missing tweets. This study fills this research gap by examining the extent of, and possible factors associated with, missing tweets among parliamentarians active on Twitter in 2018 in six Western European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Sweden). Empirically, this study uses replication material from Castanho Silva and Proksch (2021a) to identify the number of missing tweets per parliamentarian, finding that 21.8% of the tweets from 2018 had disappeared from the platform by October 2021. To determine the factors associated with these missing tweets four hypotheses are tested, examining mass deletion, gendered incivility, intra-party conflict, and populism. The results find that there is no association between gender or intra-party conflict and missing tweets. Furthermore, parliamentarians generally do not engage in mass deletion of tweets, but when they do those who have since left parliament are overrepresented. Lastly, there is a positive association between the level of populism and the number of missing tweets. The results of this thesis highlight both the theoretical and empirical importance of examining missing tweets when analyzing the behavior of politicians on Twitter. 

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