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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Measuring international relations in social media conversations

  • Author(s): Barnett, GA
  • Xu, WW
  • Chu, J
  • Jiang, K
  • Huh, C
  • Park, JY
  • Park, HW
  • et al.

© 2016 Elsevier Inc. This paper examines international relations as perceived by the public in their social media conversations. It examines over 1.8 billion Facebook postings in English and 51 million Chinese posts on Weibo, to reveal the relations among nations as expressed in social media conversations. It argues that social media represent a transnational electronic public sphere, in which public discussions reveal characteristics of international relations as perceived by a foreign public. The findings show that the international relations in social media postings match the core-peripheral structure proposed in the World Systems Theory. Additionally, the relations are associated with the amount of news coverage and public attention a country receives. Overall, the study demonstrates the value of webometric data in revealing how international relations are perceived by average citizens.

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