Thumbs up, thumbs down? Likes and dislikes as popularity drivers of political YouTube videos

Anders Olof Larsson


While early ideas surrounding the influence of the Internet on political participation and communication were often overtly optimistic, comparably recent years have seen the rise of online hate speech and similar issues gaining influence in a variety of online spheres. The study presented here seeks to detail the impact of positive (‘thumbs-up’) and negative (‘thumbs-down’) feedback on the popularity of politically themed YouTube videos, uploaded during the 2017 Norwegian parliamentary election. Given the apparent dearth of studies on YouTube in this regard, the insights provided here furthers our understanding regarding the drivers of online popularity during election campaigns. Specifically, results indicate that while commenting on uploaded videos appear as related to the ‘thumbs-up’ variety, video view count appear as more clearly related to the dismissive ‘thumbs-down’ feedback option. Discussing these results, the final section of the paper also provides a few suggestions for future research efforts in this vein.


Media studies; Political communication; digital media; social media; Norway

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