CLEMSON — Seniors working in Clemson University’s Social Media Listening Center are examining hot-button issues related to the 2016 presidential election as they play out on social media.

The communication majors compared and contrasted patterns of social media chatter regarding two highly debated topics from the campaign trail, including Republican nominee Donald Trump’s remarks on immigration and the investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email use.

Christie Duoos, senior communication major, explains the latest social media data about the 2016 presidential election in a television interview.

Christie Duoos, senior communication major, explains the latest social media data about the 2016 presidential election in a television interview.

Students detected significant spikes in social media use that corresponded to dates the  FBI released new information regarding Clinton’s email server and when Donald Trump made specific comments related to immigration. The number of social media mentions differed significantly among the candidates, as Clinton received 1,557,882 mentions related to the email probe, while Trump received 927,844 mentions about immigration.

Students uncovered an important trend in their research.

Sentiment analysis related to social media chatter about Hillary Clinton and the email investigation over the past 90 days.

Sentiment analysis related to social media chatter about Hillary Clinton and the email investigation over the past 90 days.

“Both candidates garnered high amounts of negative chatter surrounding these issues over the past three months,” said senior communication studies major Christie Duoos. “However, when compared head to head, there was significantly more negative chatter surrounding Trump and his comments on immigration than Clinton and the related email investigation.”

The students’ research also revealed sustained social media chatter about Trump across the course of his presidential campaign, beginning with the announcement of his candidacy in June 2015.

Sentiment analysis related to social media chatter about Donald Trump and immigration over the past 90 days.

Sentiment analysis related to social media chatter about Donald Trump and immigration over the past 90 days.

“The Social Media Listening Center provides Clemson students with a front row seat to the presidential election conversations playing out on social media,” said professor Joseph Mazer, director of Clemson University’s Social Media Listening Center. “There are new developments every day, all of which could influence what people are saying about both candidates and how they could vote on Election Day.”

Mazer, the associate chair of the department of communication, leads a social media senior capstone seminar. His 13 students are focusing on the presidential race this semester.

Students use Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Radian6 software to listen, measure and engage in more than 650 million sources of social media conversations across the web. They are capturing publicly available data from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, online communities and mainstream news outlets. Radian6 sifts through this stream of data and reveals sentiment, share of voice, trending topics, geo-location metrics and much more.

The Social Media Listening Center is housed in the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences and is open to all areas of the university.

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