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Pandemic Populism: Facebook Pages of Alternative News Media and the Corona Crisis -- A Computational Content Analysis
Svenja Boberg.
Thorsten Quandt.
Tim Schatto-Eckrodt.
Lena Frischlich.
Acceso Abierto
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only had severe political, economic, and societal effects, it has also affected media and communication systems in unprecedented ways. While traditional journalistic media has tried to adapt to the rapidly evolving situation, alternative news media on the Internet have given the events their own ideological spin. Such voices have been criticized for furthering societal confusion and spreading potentially dangerous "fake news" or conspiracy theories via social media and other online channels. The current study analyzes the factual basis of such fears in an initial computational content analysis of alternative news media's output on Facebook during the early Corona crisis, based on a large German data set from January to the second half of March 2020. Using computational content analysis, methods, reach, interactions, actors, and topics of the messages were examined, as well as the use of fabricated news and conspiracy theories. The analysis revealed that the alternative news media stay true to message patterns and ideological foundations identified in prior research. While they do not spread obvious lies, they are predominantly sharing overly critical, even anti-systemic messages, opposing the view of the mainstream news media and the political establishment. With this pandemic populism, they contribute to a contradictory, menacing, and distrusting worldview, as portrayed in detail in this analysis.
Appears in Collections:Artículos científicos

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