AAAI Publications, Eleventh International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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Examining the Alternative Media Ecosystem Through the Production of Alternative Narratives of Mass Shooting Events on Twitter
Kate Starbird

Last modified: 2017-05-03

Abstract


This research explores the alternative media ecosystem through a Twitter lens. Over a ten-month period, we collected tweets related to alternative narratives — for example, conspiracy theories — of mass shooting events. We utilized tweeted URLs to generate a domain network, connecting domains shared by the same user, then conducted qualitative analysis to understand the nature of different domains and how they connect to each other. Our findings demonstrate how alternative news sites propagate and shape alternative narratives, while mainstream media deny them. We explain how political leanings of alternative news sites do not align well with a U.S. left-right spectrum, but instead feature an anti-globalist (versus globalist) orientation where U.S. Alt-Right sites look similar to U.S. Alt-Left sites. Our findings describe a subsection of the emerging alternative media ecosystem and provide insight in how websites that promote conspiracy theories and pseudo-science may function to conduct underlying political agendas.

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