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BWL XI: Two papers accepted at ICWSM

Two new research papers have been accepted for publication in the proceedings of the International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM). The papers analyze user behavior on the alt-right social media platform Parler.
Paper 1: Johannes Jakubik, Michael Vössing, Dominik Bär, Nicolas Pröllochs, Stefan Feuerriegel (2022)

Online Emotions During the Storming of the US Capitol: Evidence from the Social Media Network Parler
ICWSM 2023 (preprint available via arXiv)

Abstract: The storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 has led to the killing of 5 people and is widely regarded as an attack on democracy. The storming was largely coordinated through social media networks such as Parler. Yet little is known regarding how users interacted on Parler during the storming of the Capitol. In this work, we examine the emotion dynamics on Parler during the storming with regard to heterogeneity across time and users. For this, we segment the user base into different groups (e.g., Trump supporters and QAnon supporters). We use affective computing to infer the emotions in the contents, thereby allowing us to provide a comprehensive assessment of online emotions. Our evaluation is based on a large-scale dataset from Parler, comprising of 717,300 posts from 144,003 users. We find that the user base responded to the storming of the Capitol with an overall negative sentiment. Akin to this, Trump supporters also expressed a negative sentiment and high levels of unbelief. In contrast to that, QAnon supporters did not express a more negative sentiment during the storming. We further provide a cross-platform analysis and compare the emotion dynamics on Parler and Twitter. Our findings point at a comparatively less negative response to the incidents on Parler compared to Twitter accompanied by higher levels of disapproval and outrage. Our contribution to research is three-fold: (1) We identify online emotions that were characteristic of the storming; (2) we assess emotion dynamics across different user groups on Parler; (3) we compare the emotion dynamics on Parler and Twitter. Thereby, our work offers important implications for actively managing online emotions to prevent similar incidents in the future.



Paper 2: Dominik Bär, Nicolas Pröllochs, Stefan Feuerriegel (2022)
Finding Qs: Profiling QAnon Supporters on Parler
ICWSM 2023 (preprint available via arXiv)

Abstract: The social media platform "Parler" has emerged into a prominent fringe community where a significant part of the user base are self-reported supporters of QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of elites controls global politics. QAnon is considered to have had an influential role in the public discourse during the 2020 U.S. presidential election. However, little is known about QAnon supporters on Parler and what sets them aside from other users. Building up on social identity theory, we aim at profiling the characteristics of QAnon supporters on Parler. We analyze a large-scale dataset with more than 600,000 profiles of English-speaking users on Parler. Based on users' profiles, posts, and comments, we then extract a comprehensive set of user features, linguistic features, network features, and content features. This allows us to perform user profiling and understand to what extent these features discriminate between QAnon and non-QAnon supporters on Parler. Our analysis is three-fold: (1) We quantify the number of QAnon supporters on Parler, finding that 34,913 users (5.5% of all users) openly report to support the conspiracy. (2) We examine differences between QAnon vs. non-QAnon supporters. We find that QAnon supporters differ statistically significantly from non-QAnon supporters across multiple dimensions. For example, they have, on average, a larger number of followers, followees, and posts, and thus have a large impact on the Parler network. (3) We use machine learning to identify which user characteristics discriminate QAnon from non-QAnon supporters. We find that user features, linguistic features, network features, and content features, can - to a large extent - discriminate QAnon vs. non-QAnon supporters on Parler. In particular, we find that user features are highly discriminatory, followed by content features and linguistic features.