Raise your voice! Activism and peer effects in online social networks (PDF)
Abstract: Do peers influence individuals’ involvement in political activism? To provide a quantitative answer, I study Argentina’s abortion rights debate through Twitter - the social media platform. Pro-choice and pro-life activists coexisted online, and the evidence suggests peer groups were not too polarized. I develop a model of strategic interactions in a network - allowing for heterogeneous peer effects. Next, I estimate peer effects and test whether online activism exhibits strategic substitutability or complementarity. I create a novel panel dataset - where links and actions are observable - by combining tweets’ and users’ information. I provide a reduced-form analysis by proposing a network-based instrumental variable. The results indicate strategic complementarity in online activism, both from aligned and opposing peers. Notably, the evidence suggests homophily in the formation of Twitter’s network, but it does not support the hypothesis of an echo-chamber effect.
Work in progress
Hate speech in social media: evidence from Bolsonaro’s election in Brazil
with D. Marino Fages.
Status: ongoing data collection.
In short: How does the arrival of new information regarding social norms affect individuals’ online behavior? We study how the 2018 Brazilian presidential election of Bolsonaro – which was almost a tie – affected online hate speech, particularly against LGBT+ minorities. This project relies on Twitter data for 2018-2021 and applies text analysis techniques to detect hate speech. We follow a Differences in Differences approach to identify the parameter of interest, using the election result as an information shock. The exposure to this shock may be heterogeneous, so we measure its local incidence by considering election results in each electoral district.
Silence in social networks
Status: draft in progress.
In short: How do social interactions affect what we publicly say and what we do not? I study a model of social norms, assuming interactions are structured through a network. Individuals choose whether to conform to a social norm – have a speech – or not – stay silent. Social norms may be controversial, and their compliance is observable. Then, individuals may remain silent (i) if no norm aligns with their preferences or (ii) if they do not want to conform to a social norm different from their friends, i.e., by social pressure. I investigate how the network structure and distribution of preferences regarding social norms affect the equilibrium outcome and under which circumstances the social pressure mechanism arises.
The long memory of poverty: the Historical Unsatisfied Basic Needs in Argentina
with E. Nicolini.