Social Media and Politics
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Social Media and Politics is a podcast bringing you innovative, first-hand insights into how social media is changing the political game. Subscribe for interviews and analysis with politicians, academics, and leading industry experts to get their take on how social media influences the ways we engage with politics and democracy.

Social Media and Politics is hosted by Michael Bossetta, political scientist at the University of Copenhagen. Feedback, comments, and suggestions for future episodes are welcome to mjb@ifs.ku.dk.

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    Data, Democracy, and the Role of Technology in Politics, with Dr. Daniel Kreiss [SMP039]

    Dr. Daniel Kreiss, Associate Professor at the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joins the podcast to discuss the role of data, social media, and technology in contemporary electoral campaigning. We discuss Dr. Kreiss' recent book, Prototype Politics, and dig into how Republicans and Democrats have built up their data infrastructures over time. We talk about the relationships between campaigns and representatives at tech firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, Russian intervention in US democracy, and whether regulation from governments is needed moving forward.

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    Algorithms, Social Media, and Society, with Dr. Thore Husfeldt [SMP038]

    Dr. Thore Husfeldt, Associate Professor in computer science at IT University of Copenhagen and Professor in computer science and Lund University, is an algorithms theorist who joins the show to discuss the implications of algorithms for politics and society. We discuss how the algorithms of Facebook and Google have developed over time, how machine learning works, the upcoming European Data Protection Regulation, and what all this means for democracy, politics, and society.

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    The Dark Web: Social Networks on Tor, with Ciphas [SMP037]

    Ciphas, an anonymous web blogger who writes about the dark web, joins the podcast to discuss what types of social networks are on the dark web. We discuss what type of social media are on the Tor browser, as well as why they might not be as popular as social networks on the clearnet. We also share experiences about being on the dark web, as well as where political discussions might be taking place.

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    Cloaked Facebook Pages, Hate Profiles, and Propaganda, with Johan Farkas [SMP036]

    Johan Farkas, Lecturer and Researcher at the IT University of Copenhagen, joins the show to discuss his research on "cloaked Facebook pages" that spread propaganda through false identities. We talk about how cloaked Facebook pages have been used in Denmark to spread hate speech about Muslims, how a Facebook group of activists formed to combat these accounts by reporting them to Facebook, and what Facebook's response to the reports actually was. We also get into fake news and post-truth democracy in the age of social media, and why these terms might not best describe the current media environment.

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    Participation, Social Media, and the Cyprus conflict, with Dr. Nico Carpentier [SMP034]

    Dr. Nico Carpentier, Professor at the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University, guests on the podcast this week to discuss participation, media, social media, and conflict in Cyprus. We discuss deliberative versus participatory democracy, as well as Dr. Carpentier's new book, "The Discursive-Material Knot: Cyprus in Conflict and Community Media Participation".

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    Policing through Facebook: Social Media and Law Enforcement, with Kenneth Hampton [SMP033]

    Kenneth Hampton, former Chief of Police in Tchula, Mississippi, joins the podcast to discuss his style of law enforcement, which draws heavily on the use of Facebook. Kenneth discusses how he's used Facebook successfully to curb crime, the controversy he faced surrounding his social media use, and how important his Facebook community is to his job.

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    Radicalization and Foreign Fighters: The Story of Lukas, with Karolina Dam [SMP032]

    Karolina Dam, founder of the NGO Sons and Daughters of the World, joins the podcast this week to tell the story of her son, Lukas. Lukas is a Danish citizen who became radicalized in Copenhagen, fled to Syria, and joined ISIS. We discuss how Facebook groups are used to recruit potential terrorists, the role that social media can play in deradicalization, and the types of communication that take place between a foreign fighter and his mother.

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    Political Talk on Social Media: Helping or Hurting Democracy?, with Dr. Scott Wright [SMP031]

    Dr. Scott Wright, Senior Lecturer in Political Communication at the University of Melbourne, joins the pod to discuss what citizens' everyday political talk on social media and other online forums means for democracy. D.r Wright shares findings from his research that the design of online forms, and the level of moderation occurring within hem, have a demonstrable impact on the quality of democratic debate that occurs in these online, 'Third Spaces.' Tune in to find out more!

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    Gab: The Free Speech Social Network, with Utsav Sanduja [SMP030]

    Gab is an upstart social network with over 200,000 users that does not censor its users' content. Utsav Sanduja, Gab's Chief Communications Officer and Global Affairs Director, joins the podcast to discuss what this social media is all about and addresses some of the recent controversies surrounding it. We discuss how Twitter and Facebook have been censoring users' content, the role of Gab in supporting free speech online, and what Gab's position is on bots and fake news on the platform. Utsav also talks about the choices made in developing the site's features, what's next for the Gab, and the social network's ambitions to go foster a global community.

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    Citizen Marketers and the Bernie Sanders Campaign on Social Media, with Dr. Joel Penney [SMP029]

    Dr. Joel Penney, Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University, guests this week to discuss his new book "The Citizen Marketer: Promoting Political Opinion in the Social Media Age." The book explores how everyday citizens actively assist in the promotion of political messages through their social media activity, following logics of viral marketing to enact persuasion at a peer-to-peer level.

    Dr. Penney then shares his research on the Bernie Sanders campaign and the role that citizens played on social media, and Facebook in particular, to help the campaign get out its message through official and unofficial channels.

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    The UK's New Digital Left: Paid Social, Civic Tech, and Mobilizing the Youth Vote, with Samir Patel [SMP028]

    Samir Patel, Managing Director at Blue State Digital London, guests this week to discuss how the recent success of the Labour Party in the 2017 British elections was aided by a huge push in digital by the British Left. We discuss the role that Facebook data targeting played in the election - not just from Labour but also advocacy groups. Samir also explains how social media was used to mobilize the British youth vote, how citizens built their own digital tools to campaign, and some transnational differences (and similarities) between campaigning in the United States, United Kingdom, and other parts of the European Union.

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    Who's Targeting You? Facebook Dark Ads in the British Election Campaign, with Sam Jeffers [SMP027]

    Sam Jeffers, co-founder of Who Targets Me, joins the podcast to discuss how sponsored Facebook ads were used by political parties in the 2017 British General Election. Who Targets Me is a project collecting targeted Facebook ads via a Google Chrome extension, and its aim is to shed light on who's posting political dark ads as well as who's being targeted. We discuss the project and what the initial data shows from GE2017.

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    How Social Media Affects Engagement with Civic and Political Life, with Dr. Shelley Boulianne [SMP026]

    Dr. Shelley Boulianne, Associate Professor in Sociology at MacEwan University, joins the show to share insights from her research on how social media is impacting citizens' engagement in civic and political life. Dr. Boulianne discusses the findings of her meta-analysis studies, comparing the results of existing research in order to better uncover how social media is affecting citizens engagement with politics.

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    The 2017 British Elections on Social Media, with Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten [SMP025]

    Host Michael Bossetta and Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten discuss parties and citizens used social media to campaign in the 2017 UK General Elections, where Theresa May's gamble to call a snap election backfired on her Conservative Party. We break down the election results and their implications for Brexit. We also look at how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat were used by the major parties and their supporters.

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    Donald Trump and Scott Walker's Digital Strategy on Social Media, with Matthew Oczkowski [SMP024]

    Matthew Oczkowski, Head of Product at Cambridge Analytica, joins the show to discuss his experience heading digital strategy for the Scott Walker primary campaign and Donald Trump general election. We discuss how the candidates used Snapchat and other social media, the differences between primary and general election campaigning in terms of digital strategy and marketing, and we also discuss how microtargeting works in practice.

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    Snapchat and the Marco Rubio Campaign, with Eric Wilson [SMP023]

    Eric Wilson, Digital Director for the Marco Rubio for President campaign, guests on the podcast to discuss how the Rubio campaign used social media in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. We focus on Snapchat and discuss how the platform was used to reach voters, how the campaign crafted Snapchat stories, and where Snapchat fit into the campaign's overall social media strategy. Eric also discusses how Snapchat was used to promote a 'Vote Early Day' initiative that set off media coverage and tweets from Donald Trump on Twitter, as well as how a Snapchat lens was used in the Australia federal elections the same year.

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    American Politics and Social Media, with Dr. Alan Rosenblatt [SMP022]

    Dr. Alan Rosenblatt, Director for Digital Research at Lake Research Partners and Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy at Turner4D, shares his insights into how politicians have historically used the internet to campaign, going back to the first campaign websites. We discuss how social media influences campaigns and advocacy, the current state of opinion polling, and the 2016 U.S. elections between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

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    The French Elections and Social Media Part 2: Le Pen versus Macron and Predicting Election Outcomes, with Dr. Antoine Bevort [SMP021]

    Dr. Antoine Bevort, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at le Cnam, gives his take on what a Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron victory in the French elections would mean for France. We discuss Dr. Bevort's research into how social media can be a predictor for public opinion, and we also touch upon how bots and fake accounts fit into the sociology theory of social capital.

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    The French Elections and Social Media Part 1: What News are Citizens Sharing on Social Media?, with Daniel Fazekas [SMP020]

    Daniel Fazekas, founder of Bakamo Social, discusses the findings of his recent research into the French social media landscape leading up to the 2017 French presidential election. We discuss what types of news sources French citizens are sharing, Russian influence on the elections through social media, and the polarization of news consumption patterns among the public. You can download a copy of the study, 'French Election Social Media Landscape', by visiting www.bakamosocial.com

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    World Leaders on Instagram: Governing through Photography, Selfies, and Live Stories, with Matthias Luefkens [SMP019]

    Matthias Luefkens, Managing Director of Digital Strategy for EMEA countries at Burson-Marsteller, comes on the podcast to discuss his 'World Leaders on Instagram 2017' Twiplomacy study, which examines the ways governments and heads of state are using Instagram. We discuss some of the findings of the study, including who has the most followers and drives the most engagement, and we also chat about how politicians and institutions are using the Instagram Live Stories feature in the early stage of adoption. Matthias places world leaders' use of Instagram in context by also sharing his insights from his research on other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, and Vine. You can find all these studies at www.Twiplomacy.com

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    Dark Social Media like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat: What do they mean for Politics and Marketing?, with Paul Hurley [SMP018]

    Paul Hurley, digital marketing expert and founder of Frictionless Social, guests this week to discuss how Dark Social networks may be influencing politics. Paul discusses how platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and others can be used by politicians and political campaigns, and we talk about how these networks may have effected the outcome of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Paul highlights how communication in Dark Social networks tends to be more honest, among close friends or those with a shared interest, and may build strong communities of users that can mobilize politically.

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    The Impact of Social Media on Politics in Nigeria, with Yomi Kazeem [SMP017]

    Yomi Kazeem, a Lagos-based writer of politics, entrepreneurship, and sports business, joins the podcast to share his insights on social media's impact on politics in Nigeria. We discuss the role of social media in the latest 2015 Nigerian elections, and how Twitter was used by citizens to guard against government manipulation of the vote. Yomi also brings up the topic of dual sim cards, elaborates on NIgeria's data infrastructure, and explains how Nigerian politicians have a love/hate relationship with social media.

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    Challenging Nancy Pelosi for Congress: Social Media's Role in Grassroots Campaigning, with Preston Picus [SMP016]

    Preston Picus, an educator and coach who challenged Nancy Pelosi in California’s 12th Congressional District, guests to discuss the role that social media played in his running his grassroots, progressive campaign. Mr. Picus highlights some of the disadvantages facing an average citizen running for office against an established politician, shares his experiences using Facebook and YouTube for digital advertising, and gives his take on why Twitter is less effective than Facebook for campaigning. We also discuss how the Bernie Sanders had similar struggles against the establishment favorite, Hillary Clinton, in obtaining the Democratic nomination for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections.

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    Social Media and Anti-Corruption Protests in Romania, with the Facebook Page 'Corruption Kills' [SMP015]

    Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten guest hosts this episode and speaks with Mugur, an activist involved with running the Facebook page 'Corruption Kills', which helped carry out the largest protest in Romania since the fall of the Soviet Union. Dr. Segesten and Mugur discuss the role of social media in mobilizing and coordinating the protests, which were in response to an ordinance aimed at limiting the penalties for corruption by government officials. They discuss how the Facebook page was used as a medium for broadcasting fact-checked information to counter fake news, as well as a communication platform where citizens could coordinate activities in support of the protests.

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    The 2017 Dutch Elections and Political Campaigning on Social Media in the Netherlands, with Dr. Kristof Jacobs [SMP014]

    Dr. Kristof Jacobs, Assistant Professor at Radboud University, joins the podcast ahead of the upcoming Dutch national elections to share his research on how political parties and strategists in the Netherlands use social media to campaign. We discuss the major role that Twitter plays in Dutch politics but also how parties are adopting newer social media platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat. We also talk about the difference between individual politicians’ social media use versus party communication more broadly. Dr. Jacobs outlines the major themes of this election, the Dutch attitudes towards fake news, Geert Wilder’s social media use, and the media’s coverage of the campaign.

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    "Last Night in Sweden": Responding to Donald Trump while Branding a Nation on Social Media, with Emma Randecker [SMP013]

    Emma Randecker from the Swedish Institute discusses how the organization responded to Donald Trump's 'Last Night in Sweden' comment, which sparked a media frenzy on both traditional and social media. Emma outlines how SI launched a fact checking campaign on Facebook and tried to clear up some misconceptions about immigration and refugees in Sweden. We also discuss the Curators of Sweden project, which gives selected Swedes control of the @Sweden Twitter account for one week, and how the Curator in charge of the account reacted to Trump's comments. Emma also shares her insights about how SI uses social media for digital marketing and how they conceptualize branding a nation.

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    The YouTube Algorithm and its Implication for Politics, with Matt Gielen [SMP012]

    Matt Gielen, founder of Little Monster Media Co and former Director of Audience Development at Frederator, joins the podcast to share is research and insights about how the YouTube algorithm works. Matt explains some of the factors that YouTube's algorithm takes into account when suggesting content to users, and we discuss the implications this filtering might have on public opinion and political campaigning during elections. Other topics touched upon are YouTube monetization, digital advertising, the importance of being authentic on YouTube to build an audience, and the future of live video streaming on social media like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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    Social Media and Nonprofit Organizations Serving Immigrants in the United States, with Dr. Heath Brown [SMP011]

    Dr. Heath Brown, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the City University of New York Graduate Center, joins the show to share his research on the political activity of nonprofit organizations serving immigrants and their communities. We discuss how these immigrant serving NGO's use - or shy away from - political action and the role that social media plays in their communication strategy. Dr. Brown highlights that the low resources of these NGO's, the diversity of their communities, and perceptions of authenticity as key factors motivating their social media adoption and strategy.

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    Bots on Social Media and How They Impact News and Politics, with Samuel Woolley [SMP010]

    This episode is all about bots on social media with guest Samuel Woolley, Director of Research of the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. We discuss exactly how users make bots, and the ways they are deployed on Facebook and Twitter to influence politics through, for example, spreading fake news or disrupting protests. Sam explains how bots are difficult to trace, since they are often geotagged in misleading locations or used for digital marketing. We also talk about bots in the latest 2016 US Presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as well look forward a bit into how bots might evolve in the future.

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    Twitter, ISIS, and Sentiment Analysis: Using Big Data to Measure Public Opinion about Terrorism, with Dr. Luigi Curini [SMP009]

    Dr. Luigi Curini, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Milan, discusses how big data from social networks can be used to estimate public opinion about ISIS and terrorism. Dr. Curini shares his research using Twitter data to uncover how the Arabic community discusses the Islamic State on social media. He and his colleagues find that closing down Twitter accounts of ISIS supporters may lead to them becoming foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, and that Islam is a major factor in generating both positive and negative sentiment about ISIS. We also discuss Dr. Curini's upcoming book, Politics and Big Data: Nowcasting and Forecasting Elections with Social Media, which looks at how social media data can be used by researchers to more accurately predict election outcomes than traditional polling methods.

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    2016 Year in Review: Bots, Fake News, and Campaigning on Snapchat, with Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten [SMP008]

    Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, Assistant Professor of European Studies at Lund University, and host Michael Bossetta discuss some of the hottest topics and controversies surrounding social media and politics from 2016. This year in review, Christmas episode tackles some of the key challenges facing policy makers and contemporary societies, from the explosion of political bots on Twitter to the spreading of fake news on Facebook. The two discuss how Snapchat was used as a digital marketing tool during the 2016 United States Presidential election, as well as what Donald Trump’s Twitter use might mean for future diplomacy. Other topics include the impact of live video streaming on social media for protest movements like Black Lives Matter and whether new social media platforms can compete alongside traditional giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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    Social Media and Political Youth Organizations in Denmark, with Emilie Demant of Venstres Ungdom [SMP007]

    Emilie Demant, social media coordinator for Venstres Ungdom, shares her insights into how a Danish political youth organization is using social media to engage young voters with politics. We discuss how Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter are each used differently to communicate politics with young Danes, as well as what types of user-generated content Emilie receives when managing these social media accounts. Emilie highlights the visual element of social media by stressing that memes, GIFs, and videos drive the most engagement on social media, and here digital marketing and graphic design play a key role. We also discuss the differences between a youth political organization and the parent political party, Venstre, and what that means for their social media use. Although exhibiting different rules of political communication on social media (especially on Snapchat), interestingly, both Venstre and Venstres Ungdom work together to strategically share content across their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter social networks.

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    Digital Marketing on Social Media for Political Campaigns, with Chasen Campbell [SMP006]

    Chasen Campbell, VP of Client Strategy at Harris Media, shares his knowledge about how major US politicians use social media for digital campaigning. We discuss how political campaigns use big data to micro-target voters on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as what it's like to run a digital marketing campaign for politicians with big budgets. Chasen also weighs in on how new social media platforms, like Snapchat and Periscope, stack up to giants like Facebook and Google. We also discuss what works and what doesn't in driving engagement online, and Chasen emphasizes that short, easy to understand, and entertaining messages are key to capturing voters' attention.

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    Hillary for Prison and Instagram: Grassroots Campaigning through Pictures, with Emily Longworth [SMP005]

    Emily Longworth, spokesperson for the Hillary for Prison movement, shares how the grassroots organization is using Instagram to promote its message during the 2016 US presidential elections. We discuss what type of conversations take place on their Instagram account's comment fields, the role of hashtags to the account's success, and bringing a bit of humor into politics.

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    E-Voting and Elections: How does it work in Estonia and what are the risks? with Jason Kitcat [SMP004]

    Jason Kitcat, an e-voting expert and avid digital rights campaigner, shares his experience as an official election observer during Estonia's 2013 municipal elections. Estonia is the first country in the word to introduce e-voting nationwide, and Jason points out some of the pitfalls he and his team observed during their election observation. We discuss whether e-voting is a viable alternative to traditional voting, and whether large social media providers like Facebook can (or cannot) help make e-voting safer.

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    Öresundsrevolutionen and Facebook: Protesting Sweden's Border Controls on Social Media, with Niels Paarup-Petersen [SMP003]

    In late 2015, the Swedish government imposed border controls to stem the influx of migrants to Sweden from the refugee crisis. A small group of regional politicians in Southern Sweden set up a Facebook page, Öresundsrevolutionen, to protest the border controls. In this episode Niels Paarup-Petersen, a regional politician from the Center Party, shares his insight into how and why the movement to protest the border controls is taking place on Facebook. We discuss Öresundsrevolutionen's communication strategy on Facebook, the role social media plays in advocating its message, and how the movement is using Facebook to place pressure on the Swedish government to repeal the border controls.

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    Twitter and Political Debates: What Dual Screening means for Democracy and Political Participation, with Dr. Christian Vaccari [SMP002]

    Dr. Cristian Vaccari, one of the world's leading social media and political communication researchers, shares his insights about what "dual screening" during political events means for democracy and political participation. We discuss exactly what dual screening is, as well as Dr. Vaccari's recent prize-winning research finding that citizens who use Twitter during political debates are more likely to participate in politics during (and after) elections. Other topics covered in this episode are the role of social media in affecting citizens' exposure to news, why researchers are overly focused on Twitter, and what implications social media has for democracy in the digital age.

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    European Parliament on Snapchat: Engaging EU Youth in Politics through Social Media, with Karolina Wozniak [SMP001]

    Karolina Wozniak, social media coordinator for the European Parliament, shares how and why the European Parliament is using Snapchat to engage youth in EU politics. Listen in as we discuss where Snapchat fits into the Parliament's overall social media strategy, the levels and types of citizen engagement, geofilters, and the costs of running a Snapchat account for a government institution (you'll be surprised!).

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