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More Than Data: Using the Netvizz Facebook Application for Mixed-Methods Analysis of Digital Diplomacy

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Political Science and International Relations
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The role Facebook plays in international politics has been the subject of numerous studies over the last decade. Initially, particular interest largely focused on the use of Facebook (and related social networking media platforms including Twitter and YouTube) by non-state actors. Foreign affairs ministries and diplomats were forced to take this seriously after they noted the success exploitation of social media of terrorist groups (such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and civil society actors (such as during the “Arab Spring” uprisings in 2011). Since then, some world leaders and governments have become more engaged and new methods, known as digital diplomacy, have arisen. Data that can be used to evaluate diplomacy on Facebook have become accessible by using a Facebook application called Netvizz, which is freely available for non-commercial research purposes and easy to use. At present, there is no simple, freely available equivalent to Netvizz that enables quantitative analysis of engagement metrics and qualitative content analysis of public Facebook pages. However, the qualitative engagement data and online content to which Netvizz provides access must be analyzed considering the specificities of the cultural contexts in which they occur. This case study outlines how data analysis and content analysis can be combined to explore how social media sites are used, including how content can be categorized, and how levels of engagement with social media content can vary in relation to the types of content and the locations of the social media users.

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