Tweeting Vertically? Elected Officials’ Interactions with Citizens on Twitter
Shapiro, Matthew A.
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Enthusiasts propose that social media promotes vertical political communication, giving citizens the opportunity to interact directly with their representatives. However, skeptics claim that politicians avoid direct engagement with constituents, using technology to present a façade of interactivity instead. This study explores if and how elected officials in three regions of the world are using Twitter to interact with the public. We examine the Twitter activity of 15 officials over a period of six months. We show that in addition to the structural features of Twitter that are designed to promote interaction, officials rely on language to foster or to avoid engagement. It also provides yet more evidence that the existence of interactive features does not guarantee interactivity.