Political Influence of Online Platforms: YouTube’s Place in European Politics
Social media platforms are today one of the primary means of political expression and campaigning. The growing entanglement of politics with the online sphere raises interest in how these new types of media shape the social and political reality. While previous research tends to focus on Twitter and Facebook, limited works exists on the political influence of YouTube. This is even though YouTube is the second-most visited website and provides unique ways of engaging users and disseminating political messages through the combination of rich communication functionality with immersive audio-visual media content. Unfortunately, the influence of social media platforms such as YouTube on politics is difficult to analyse, due a lack of transparency and qualitative data. Independent researchers and the public have limited ways to access meaningful statistics about the video service.
This article derives a taxonomy to classify YouTube’s ways of political influence from a case-study-driven analysis of YouTube in the European political landscape. Our taxonomy aligns with traditional theoretical concepts from media effects theory, particularly framing, priming and agenda-setting. We provide a brief discussion of the current regulatory landscape in the EU, and highlight gaps that might need improvement. We conclude by considering the question of whether YouTube is a political actor.
YouTube, social media, online platform, European Union, content moderation, political content
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