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Twitter and Politics: Identifying Turkish Opinion Leaders in New Social Media

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Online platforms now provide a valuable medium for political socialization and mobilization. Recent events such as the Gezi Park protests, the Occupy Wall Street, or the anti-government protests in Iran demonstrate how effective social media can be in shaping an individual's political attitudes and actions. Traditional public opinion research does not acknowledge this emerging data source to its fullest extent. In this study, findings from the “Identifying Policy Opinion Shapers and Trends in Turkey” project, which has been collecting and exploring Twitter data to define how the online political debates are shaped in Turkey, are presented. Having identified over ten million active Turkish Twitter users and produced a social network graph of these users, this study identifies public opinion leadership in the Turkish online discussion space. The findings suggest that who these opinion leaders are may not follow the conventional expectations, but these leaders employ various tactics in managing their online presence and disseminating their ideas. This research endeavor as well as the findings suggests that engaging in cross-disciplinary research with scholars from different backgrounds can advance Turkish studies, in terms of both content and methodology. Most importantly, such interdisciplinary research can render significant leverage toward making Turkey more globally salient for scholarly debates.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabancı University, İstanbul, Turkey 2: Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Sabancı University, İstanbul, Turkey

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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