Policy Paper 12 February 2018

#AUEU: A Twitter Analysis of the 2017 AU-EU Summit

by Alexander GausDario Toman               African Policy Circle

This paper presents a Twitter analysis of the African Union-European Union Summit (AU-EU Summit), which took place on November 29 and 30, 2017, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. An analysis of Twitter data offers the opportunity to determine the views of individuals and groups around certain issues. Moreover, it can offer a window into public debates held over social media, how these debates change over time, which communities share what information, and to what extent filter bubbles and insular groups within and across larger communities exist.

Examining 46,000 tweets, this Twitter analysis of the 2017 AU-EU Summit shows an engaged but relatively modest online community consisting of core opinion-leaders mainly from Europe who drive the discourse. Moreover, we see a set of self-referencing communities operating on the fringes and with little to no impact on the mainstream discourse.

Beyond uncovering these distinct communities, a text analysis of all tweets explored the topics that were most prominent and indicated how that prominence changed over time. Unsurprisingly, given the official theme of the summit, youth was one of the central themes of the Twitter conversations, largely driven by the accounts of the summit organizers. However, during the actual summit, youth was quickly overtaken by migration as the central issue on Twitter. Driven to a large extent by recent media reports of the enslavement of African migrants in Libya, the summit itself quickly became dominated by this issue. This topic - which was subsumed under the theme of migration in this analysis - triggered an almost two-fold increase in migration-related tweets when compared to youth as a follow-on topic. This demonstrates how dominant this particular discourse was on social media.


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