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Journal of Quantitative Description Article Examines Bias in Social Media about Haftar’s 2019 Tripoli Offensive

On 3 June, Shelby Grossman, Kate Jonsson, Lydia Sizer, and Nicholas Lyon’s article ‘Slanted Narratives, Social Media, and Foreign Influence in Libya’ was published in the Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media.

The article examined how foreign social media outlets with political interests use social media platforms to influence politics in countries with high social media penetration, such as Libya. Using a dataset of Arabic and English-language Facebook page posts about General Haftar’s Tripoli offensive in April 2019, Grossman et al. found that the majority of information was posted from pages whose administrators were outside of Libya. They found that post partisan content varied depending on the source location, for example content from Turkey was slanted towards the Government of National Accord (GNA) while content from the UAE was slanted towards the Libyan National Army (LNA) under Haftar. The most hyper-partisan posts were of non-Libyan origins on the whole. Grossman et al. concluded that their findings showed a correlation between biased Facebook posts and the location of the Facebook page administrators, although these correlations were driven by a smaller number of highly partisan pages. They suggest that going forward, academics, analysts, and policymakers should interpret social media responses to events with deep scepticism, as foreign posts may be intentionally misleading and designed to promote their source country’s home interests.

Read the full article here.

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