Graduate students Thomas Davidson and Julius Lagodny report on their research into social media use by Alternative for Germany (AfD)in this Washington Post opinion piece.
The pair, who are studying in the fields of sociology and government, undertook the project to determine whether the party's social media use helped it to win 12.6 percent of seats in Germany's recent parliamentary elections, a number that surprised many.
"The AfD built up a large following on both Facebook and Twitter by sharing a high volume of highly sensationalist tweets and posts, which other social media users reacted to emotionally," they write.
"We can see that the AfD has used social media to build a large virtual grass-roots base of support and has captured many German social media users’ imaginations," the piece says. "More generally, we see how important social media can be for challenger parties that want to mobilize supporters but lack the established groups’ more conventional resources."
Read the entire editorial here.