Signal and noise

British society and its politics are increasingly influenced by social media – which presents both democratic opportunities and also practical challenges for MPs. If they are unable to make sense of the digital ‘noise’, or feel overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of information or hostile interactions, their confidence to engage is threatened.  Furthermore, social media creates measures of opinion organised by themes that can be difficult for MPs to understand or value, relative to more traditional measures of influence or representation. And yet, the growth of digital politics also creates new expectations: about what people expect of their elected representatives and what MPs might expect in return.  This short paper examines one aspect of this very broad challenge: whether technology can (and should) help MPs make better use of social media by collecting Twitter data and subjecting it to a series of analyses.

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