Articles & Analyses

You can find below some of my ongoing research projects on news, disinformation, social media, politics, and digital culture. I sometimes post here some insight that is not used or published elsewhere.

How did global TV news channels cover the convoy protest in Canada?

Date: July 12, 2022

I examined the total airtime of news coverage of the truckers protest in Ottawa by 10 news channels: (BLOOMBERG, CNBC,CNN, FOXNEWS, MSNBC, ALJAZEERA, BBCNEWS, DW, RT, and CBS), and I used Google’s GDELT for this inquiry.

To search these channels, I used the following terms: “convoy protest”, “truckers protest”, “truckers convoy”, “trucker protest”, “freedom convoy”, “trucker protest” and by specifying the following dates during which the event was mentioned: 1/13/2022 until 4/12/2022.

Theoretically, the more attention given to a topic, the more important it is for the news organization.

The second point is the framing of the protest that is often described in relation to freedom of expression and/or movement. For example, I  analyzed the terms that RT mostly used in describing the movement and it is actually the phrase “freedom convoy” (mentioned 1032 times) and it got the highest airtime coverage, too (see the visualization below).

Other common phrases associated with the news coverage include “peaceful demonstration” and “peaceful protestors”, indicating the channel’s preference in framing the protestors.

The link below shows another visualization of RT’s news coverage.

Finally, it is interesting to see in this link the type of sources and people RT decided to interview to cover the convoy protest.

Holford, D., Fasce, A., Tapper, K., Demko, M., Lewandowsky, S., Hahn, U., A., Al-Rawi, A., Alladin, A., Boender, T. S., Bruns, H., Fischer, F., Gilde, C., Hanel, P. H. P., Herzog, S. M., Kause, A., Lehmann, S., Nurse, M. S., Orr, C., Pescetelli, N., Petrescu, M., Sah, S., Schmid, P., Sirota, M., & Wulf, M. (2022). A manifesto for science communication as collective intelligence. 

Al-Rawi, A. (2022, May 11). Language matters when Googling controversial people. The Conversation

Al-Rawi, A. (2022, April 10). The Russian embassy in Canada weaponizes social media to fuel support for the Ukraine invasion. The Conversation

See below the most active users (the larger the bubble, means the most frequent user), and the graph below shows the sudden spike in users’ accounts that were created in February 2022, retweeting the Russian Embassy’s messages.

The Truckers’ protest in 2022 on Twitter

Date: February 21, 2022

I explored the truckers’ protests in Ottawa by studying the discussions on Twitter. I searched for 6 supportive and neutral hashtags from January 1 until February 20, 2022 (TruckersForFreedom2022 OR #IStandWithTruckers OR #FreedomTruckers OR #istandwiththetruckers OR #Truckersforfreedomconvoy2022 OR #TruckersConvoy2022), and the total number of collected tweets were 1,379,282 (data from February 15 is missing). Interestingly, I examined the self-proclaimed locations of users, and this is what they mostly stated (the bigger the bubble means the more recurrent the location is). As we can see below, the majority of users are from Canada.

However, when I examined the most used languages, I was surprised to find that Dutch and German languages come immediately after English and French, indicating the kind of support the movement got from the Netherlands and Germany.

Al-Rawi, A. (2021, August 29). Facebook’s latest federal election integrity initiative is just another marketing tactic. The Conversation

Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J., Schmid, P., Holford, D. L., Finn, A., Lombardi, D., Al-Rawi, A., Thomson, A., Leask, J., Juanchich, M., Anderson, E. C., Sah, S., Vraga, E. K., Gavaruzzi, T., Rapp, D. N., Amazeen, M. A., Sinatra, G. M., Kendeou, P., Armaos, K. D., Newman, E. J., Ecker, U. K. H., Tapper, K., Bruns, H. H. B., Pennycook, G., Betsch, C., Hahn, U. (2021). The COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook. A practical guide for improving vaccine communication and fighting misinformation.

Armaos, K., Tapper, K., Ecker, U., Juanchich, M., Bruns, H., Gavaruzzi, T., Sah, S., Al-Rawi, A., Lewandowsky, S. (2020). Tips on countering conspiracy theories and disinformation. Shaping tomorrow’s

Al-Rawi, A. (2019, September 10). Scant evidence of active Twitter bots as Canadian election nears. The Conversation.

A further bots examination of the hashtag #TrudeauMustGo in 2019 on Twitter

Date: 18 September, 2019

As a follow up to the article above on bots before the 2019 Canadian election, I collected 310,451 tweeted referencing #TrudeauMustGo posted by 13,960 unique users from 20 June until 13 September 2019. The highest number of tweets were on 19 July (n=21,157) followed by 14 August 2019 (n=11,799). The top day is mostly attributed to a “viral” post by a conservative supporter posted on 18 July challenging the claim that this hashtag is caused by bots, while the latter date coincided with news reports on Trudeau’s breaching the conflict of interest law in relation to the SNC-Lavalin issue.

Figure 1 – Frequency of tweets referencing #TrudeauMustGo

Table 1 – The top 20 retweets which include 5 posts referencing bots

No. Retweets Frequency
1. #TrudeauMustGo 22626
2. #trudeaumustgo #notabot 1079
3. #TrudeauMustGo … 474
4. #notabot #trudeaumustgo 460
5. #trudeaumustresign #TrudeauMustGo 390
6. #TrudeauMustGo #TrudeauMustResign 379
7. #TrudeauMustGo #ButtsMustGo 371
8. #TrudeauMustGo #LiberalsMustGo 319
9. #TrudeauMustGo #TrudeauMustGo 249
10. #TrudeauMustGo #Scheer4PM 230
11. #TrudeauMustGo #VotePPC #PPC #PPC2019 #BERNIERNATION #MCGA #Liberals #TheGreatAwakening #Peoplespartyofcanada 216
12. #tRUDEauMustGO! 120
13. #trudeaumustresign #trudeaumustgo #LiberalsMustGo #ButtsMustGo #ProsecuteTrudeau #ObstructionOfJustice 109
14. #TrudeauMustGo … 107
15. #TrudeauMustGo #TrudeauMustGo #TrudeauMustGo 107
16. #TrudeauMustGo #TrudeauMustGoToJail 100
17. #TrudeauMustGo #McKennaMustGo 95
18. #TrudeauMustGo #TrudeauMustGo #notAbot 92
19. #TrudeauMustGo #NotABot #PrisonersLikeButts #FlushTheTurd 91
20. #buttsmustgo #trudeaumustgo 78

The bots examination of all the users (n=13,960), which lasted 5 days to complete, shows the following results. First, it was not possible to get the scores of 61 accounts either because they were private, blocked, or deleted. From the remaining 13,899 accounts, there were only 520 accounts that scored 3.5 and above which increases their likelihood of being bots, constituting about 3.5% of the total accounts (Botometer calculates scores ranging between 0 for humans and 5 for bots). To conclude, the vast majority of Twitter users who referenced #TrudeauMustGo are humans and only a very few number of users seem to act like bots.   

Social Network Analysis of #CDNpoli most mentioned users in 2019 on Twitter

Date: 18 October, 2019

Over half a million tweets referencing #CDNpoli were collected using SFU-TCAT platform which were posted by over 80K unique users from July to October, 2019. The bigger the bubble means the more frequent mentions. There is evidence here of echo chambers or clusters representing the conservatives, liberals, NDP, and Maxime Bernier.

Al-Rawi, A. (2019, October 18). “#Fakenews is being used to discredit mainstream media coverage of the Canadian election. The Conversation.

Al-Rawi, A. & Jiwani, Y. (2019, July 23). Russian Twitter trolls stoke anti-immigrant lies ahead of Canadian election. The Conversation.

Translated into French language: (2019, August 27). Des trolls russes diffusent des fausses nouvelles sur Twitter à l’approche des élections canadiennes. The Conversation.