Commenting on news in different discourse architectures: Comparison of discursive practices across eight social media platforms in Russia

Sat9  Apr03:00pm(20 mins)
Umney Theatre


Anna Litvinenko


In Russia, global social media platforms compete with their Russia-based competitors, which offers a perfect case to study influence of different discourse architectures (Freelon 2015) on online discussions. This study aims to explore the influence of platform affordances on discursive practices of news commenters. It draws on comparison of discussions under news on eight platforms in the accounts of the leading Russian news portal The sample of 8 750 comments was coded according to the following variables: reciprocity, constructiveness, incivility, the level of political criticism (uncritical/policy-critical/leadership-critical). The results of content analysis demonstrate that discourse architectures of comment sections that give more power to media professionals as well enable crowd-sourced moderation, such as that of Facebook or Twitter, correlate with a better quality of deliberation. Less structured comment sections with low intervention of moderators, as for instance on Telegram, VK or YouTube, contain more incivility, but at the same time also feature a higher level of political criticism. This explorative study supports the results of previous studies in Western contexts that demonstrated that certain platform architectures might increase the quality of deliberation. However, it also shows that in restrictive contexts the same platform affordances might curb political dissent.

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