The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part Two

Posted: 10/06/2013 in Observations

For a recent university paper, I conducted an exploratory study into how the Caucasus Emirate uses the microblogging site Twitter. I’ve extracted some of the key points of the study for your reading pleasure — although it’s worth noting that the full paper contains more details and references the relevant literature.  This second post looks at interactions with other users.  See The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part One for details on the study subjects, the accounts that they follow, and the paper’s definition of extremism.

Low Levels of Interaction

Tweets for five Caucasus Emirate-associated accounts — Kavkavcenter (KC), UmmaNews_com (UN), IslamDin_TV (ID), VDagestan_Ru (VD), and Kavkazchat (KT) — prior to 1 April 2013 were harvested between 3 and 4 April.  I harvested all tweets since account creation for ID (261 tweets), VD (82) and KT (51). Because Twitter limits the number of tweets that can be harvested to 3,200, I was only able to harvest a sample of KC’s (3,065) and UN’s (3,092) total Twitter output. Interactions (@ mentions) were extracted using Excel formulae, while conversations (@ mentions not preceded by RT) were located on the original Twitter feed and archived.

KC

UN

ID

VD

KT

Number of Tweets Containing @

376

521

29

9

7

Number of Tweets Containing @ as % of whole7

12.3%

16.9%

11.1%

11.0%

13.7%

Number of Tweets Containing RT @

217

515

2

6

7

Number of RT as % of all interactions

57.7%

98.9%

6.9%

66.7%

100.0%

Interactions account for only a small proportion of Caucasus Emirate Twitter activity:  VD’s and KT’s interactions were in single figures (although VD’s as yet short lifespan needs to be taken into account), and 25 of ID’s 29 interactions were mentions of YouTube and Dailymotion, indicating the posting of material to those platforms.  Only KC and UN registered large numbers of interactions.  Retweets constitute a majority of all except ID’s total interactions and were heavily oriented towards fellow Caucasus Emirate accounts:

Top Five Most Retweeted Accounts (Number of Retweets)

KC

UN

ID

VD

KT

UN

(164)

KC

(444)

KC

(1)

KC

(3)

KC

(5)

ID

(15)

VD

(51)

IntelTweet

(1)

UN

(3)

AliOruj

(1)

VD

(8)

ID

(14)

Insurgent95

(1)

Zabihmujahid

(4)

Ansar_Din

(3)

EkhoMskNews

(4)

Apollo_next

(2)

UN rarely interacted with non-Caucasus Emirate accounts and only once engaged in a sustained conversation — defined as mentioning another user more than once in a conversation thread.  KC was the only account to repeatedly interact with non-Caucasus Emirate accounts.  Often these were sustained conversations with users who appeared to challenge KC’s ideological/theological position.  It is notable that such conversations were overwhelmingly reactive.

The limited number of interactions for all accounts; the heavy orientation of interactions towards other Caucasus Emirate accounts; the focus of non-Caucasus Emirate interactions on answering ideological opponents; and their predominantly reactive nature are all further supportive of the finding from accounts followed that these accounts serve an information provision rather than networking role.

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