FGV DAPP supports Election Watch in monitoring social networks during Austrian elections

FGV team analyzed YouTube videos featuring political content using exclusive methodology
Public Policy
21 February 2020
FGV DAPP supports Election Watch in monitoring social networks during Austrian elections

Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Department of Public Policy Analysis (FGV DAPP) was part of an international team led by Election Watch, an Austrian organization composed of election observers, which monitored and analyzed election campaigns on social media channels during the 2019 Austrian parliamentary elections.

The aim of the project, conducted in cooperation with Democracy Reporting International (DRI), MEMO98 and Data4Good, as well as researchers from the University of Vienna, was to test new methods for monitoring election campaigns in the digital world. The results were systematized and published in this final report, which also includes a series of recommendations.

In September and October 2019, the FGV DAPP team, made up of researchers Lucas Calil and Polyana Barboza, analyzed information collected from YouTube videos on political topics, based on a pioneering linguistic categorization methodology developed by FGV DAPP and applied to Austria’s political context in German. Every week, the 25 videos with the biggest audience used by politicians and political parties for their election campaigns were selected.

Election Watch asked Facebook and Twitter for access to their platforms’ application programming interfaces (APIs) in order to obtain access to posts and interactions on the social media pages of politicians, parties, opinion leaders, media outlets and journalists. Using this information, Data4Good, a data science firm in Vienna, analyzed 26,000 posts by politicians and parties, as well as 1.1 million comments by users. (See the results in these interactive graphics.) FGV DAPP collected information about political content on YouTube based on a keyword dictionary used for Twitter and Facebook. To see the complete report in English, click here.

FGV DAPP and Election Watch coordinated their work through DRI, an independent organization that monitors democratic processes throughout the world, which participated in the study on the Austrian elections. In 2019, as part of a European Union project, DRI invited FGV DAPP to take part in a workshop at the European Parliament in Brussels, along with researchers from institutions across the world, to develop social network research methodologies in electoral contexts.

Following this workshop, FGV DAPP researchers contributed to a consolidated document setting out recommendations and methodological guidelines for social network research, which was published in October 2019. This project was a pioneering international initiative related to the regulation and systematization of applied research processes in digital environments.