Twitter and Australian political debates

This paper examines the adoption of Twitter as a space for long-term political discussions. Although Twitter as a medium for public debate encompasses many different functions, users, and themes, this study tracks three specific Australian hashtags: #auspol, denoting national political topics, and #qldpol and #wapol, which provide two case studies of state politics (referring respectively to Queensland and Western Australia). The analysis draws on Twitter activity collected throughout 2012, and allows for the identification of day-to-day patterns of activity by Twitter users and the themes, issues, and figures which attract the most attention within these discussions. With widespread use of Twitter by Australian politicians, journalists, and media commentators, particularly in comparison to other online media such as blogs, alongside the voting public, this paper also examines the comments made by, and interactions between, these different users, to examine the extent to which these groups are actively participating in public debate online.