The twitter citizen : contributing to civil society discussion or adding to the noise?
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This study examined the civic properties afforded by Twitter and considered whether hashtag communities achieve issues-pluralism in order to facilitate at least some viewpoints to popular expression otherwise absent from print media. Data sources included Twitter hashtag communities that formed around the 2013 Alberta Budget and the associated print media coverage. This inquiry found that while diverse actors contribute to the formation of Twitter hashtag communities, the associated discussion failed to drive issues-pluralism. Twitter's most apparent value to civil society is information exchange--both in terms of tweet content and hyperlinked content and multimedia. In spite of this strength, Twitter is ill-suited as a communicative forum for civil society. Discussion uptake and opinion expression were relatively modest among participants, and the conversation was overwhelmingly dominated and driven by agents of traditional news media intent on perpetuating roles in content gatekeeping and who operated in the service of profits.
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