Steinfeld, Nili, and Lev-On, Azi. (2018). MPs and audiences on social media during emergencies: Automatic and manual content analyses of Facebook posts. Journal of eDemocracy and Open Government, 10(2), 33-52.
Members of parliament’s (MPs) social media channels are significant arenas for communication between the public and national leaders. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to explore how these channels function during emergencies. We present findings from a mixed-method study of automatic and manual content analysis of a unique dataset com-posed of all posts on Israeli MPs’ Facebook pages during the entire 19th Israeli parliament. We compare scope of posting, engagement with posts, and the content in MPs’ Facebook pages during “ordinary” periods and an “emergency” period, focusing on the 2014 Israel/Gaza war. Findings present MPs’ social media pages as hubs of interaction between MPs and audiences in emergencies, even more so than during ordinary periods. MPs’ social media pages involve significantly more posts (and engagement with posts) during emergencies. In addition, the content in them becomes more emotional, less personal, and focused on the emergency situation and the national leaders responding to it.