An Investigation Into Twitter as an Echo Chamber: A Case Study Using Hashtags During CAA Protests in India

Zhang, Yuxuanzi
Myllylahti, Merja
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis examines to what extent microblogging site Twitter functions as an echo chamber. While the research in this area is increasing, academia is divided in its view about echo chambers. Some academics argue that echo chambers do not exist (Bruns, 2017; Garrett, 2009); others have found supporting evidence (Dubois & Blank, 2018; Garimella et al., 2018; Jamieson & Cappella, 2008; Krasodomski-Jones, 2017; Williams et al., 2015). By using concepts of the public sphere (Habermas, 1989) and the digital public sphere (Schäfer, 2015), this thesis first assesses whether echo chambers are carried over from the public sphere to the digital public sphere, specifically Twitter. Second, it analyses whether there is evidence of echo chamber formation on Twitter. The thesis uses the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in India as a case study, and document analysis and hashtag content analysis as its methods. The data for the thesis is collected using third-party platforms Twitonomy and Hashtagify. While 400 hashtags related to the CAA protests were initially collected, the study critically analyses the 20 most frequently used hashtags. The thesis finds evidence that to an extent, Twitter functions as an echo chamber, supporting findings of some earlier academic studies.

Twitter , CAA , Public sphere , Digital public sphere , Echo chamber
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