doxa.comunicación | 30, pp. 229-248 | 231

January-June of 2020

Amparo López-Meri, Silvia Marcos-García and Andreu Casero-Ripollés

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

2013; López-Meri, 2016; Marín-Dueñas & Díaz-Guerra, 2016; Quevedo-Redondo, Portalés-Oliva & Berrocal-Gonzalo, 2016). These studies also pay special attention to aspects such as interaction between politicians and other Twitter users (Alonso-Muñoz, Marcos-García & Casero-Ripollés, 2017; Alonso-Muñoz, Miquel Segarra & Casero-Ripollés, 2016; Pérez-Dasilva, Meso-Ayerdi & Mendiguren-Galdospín, 2018), the content of messages (Zugasti-Azagra & Pérez-González, 2016; López-García, 2016; Zugasti-Azagra & García-Ortega, 2018), the influence of image (Bustos-Díaz & Ruiz del Olmo, 2018; López-Rabadán, López-Meri & Doménech-Fabregat, 2016), and the main uses and functions that politicians attribute to this social network (López-Meri, Marcos-García & Casero-Ripollés, 2017).

However, Facebook has generated less interest in the field of political communication research (Casero-Ripollés, 2018). Among the studies that have dealt with this social network, those that are especially significant are works that have analysed its use by politicians in the 2008 and 2012 elections in the United States in which Barack Obama was elected president of the country (Gerodimos & Justinussen, 2015; Robertson, Vatrapu & Medina, 2010; Williams & Gulati, 2013; Woolley, Limperos, & Oliver, 2010).

In Spain, the study of Facebook is still in its infancy and is especially focused on the analysis of content and resources shared by politicians (Túñez & Sixto, 2011), or on specific phenomena such as citizen participation (Fenoll & Cano-Orón, 2017; Zurutuza & Lilleker, 2018), the use of emotion (Coromina, Prado & Padilla, 2018; Sampietro & Valera-Ordaz, 2015), and persuasion (Abejón-Mendoza & Mayoral-Sánchez, 2017). However, research in Spain regarding the way in which politicians generally use this social network is still scarce.

2. Political uses of social networks: Facebook in election campaigns

Facebook has more than 2.1 billion active users worldwide (Global Digital Report, 2018), as well as one of the highest levels of participation. Its features allow users to exploit a multitude of functions, highlighted by the publication and sharing of content, interaction with other people through comments and reactions (“I like it”, “I have fun”, “It makes me angry”, among others), or community building related to their tastes and interests (Coromina, Prado & Padilla, 2018). In short, Facebook makes it possible for anyone to communicate and share their opinions and knowledge with a large audience, and as a result it becomes a space where quality deliberation on matters of public interest can take place (Camaj & Santana, 2016).

The large number of users, as well as Facebook’s own digital architecture (open structure network, hyperlink function, unlimited length of videos, algorithmic filtering, the possibility of including sponsored advertising), are all very attractive to politicians, who have incorporated this platform as another instrument of communication in their electoral campaigns (Bossetta, 2018; Woolley, Limperos & Oliver, 2010). However, according to studies carried out in different countries, there is still no consensus regarding the effect of Facebook on the public agenda, nor as a source of political information (Skogerbø & Krumsvik, 2015; Stier et al., 2018), and not even with regard to its effects on electoral results or on the communication strategies of politicians. On one hand, it has been pointed out that Facebook can promote political participation, debate with the audience, and voter engagement during campaign periods (Bene, 2018; Di Bonito, 2014; Gerbaudo, Marogna & Alzetta, 2019; Stier et al, 2018; Vesnic-Alujevic, 2012), while on the other hand, it has been concluded that political parties