Social media and personal attacks: A comparative perspective on co-creation and political advertising in presidential campaigns on YouTube

Noortje de Boer, Hannah Sütfeld, Jacob Groshek


In this era of politically charged social media uses, broadcast campaign advertising is being transformed in the online environment, not only by candidates but also by citizens. Likewise, negative campaigning, specifically ‘attack’ advertising, has been analyzed and discussed widely concerning possible implications for voters. However, a specific focus on analyzing such broadcast advertisements — especially in online environments across nations — has not been explored in great detail. Thus, this inquiry examines negative campaigning in social media, since the presence of both can not be ignored in contemporary broadcast and political cultures. Specifically, this study quantitatively analyzes and compares the content of political advertising in the 2012 presidential campaigns in France and the United States that were posted on YouTube. In essence, this study considers political–cultural differences between France and America as those are expressed and presented in increasingly interconnected and dynamic forms of political communication, advertising and media co–creation. Findings presented here identify unique dimensions of reciprocity between broadcast cultures and political advertising as those are adapted and negotiated by candidates and audiences in social media.


Social media; political advertising; cross-national comparison; negativity; elections

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