Politics and Social Media in the Global South

Politicians in various parts of the world have invested in social media campaigns, including in settings where a relatively small proportion of the voting public is actually online. Leaders use social media to actively court constituents, to present a narrative on their political program to the international community, or to use the affordances of social media to frame the agenda on a specific issue. The work here tracks the use of social media by various politicians around the world.

  • Global South Politicians Twitter Map: This interactive map shows key politicians from around the world who are on Twitter, categorized by the percentage of Twitter users in their respective countries following them online. Link to the map.
  • Politicians and Social Media in the Global South: This 2018 workshop at the University of Michigan brought together scholars and practitioners from around the world to discuss the role of social media in global politicians’ social media strategies, all talks are available free here. Link to the event.
  • Populist politicians’ online style: This paper looks at the common threads in style of online speech among populist social media campaigns of Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Narendra Modi, and Nigel Farage. Link to paper.
  • Politicians’ Tweets in the News : This research looks at second order effects of politicians’ social media messaging by using text mining techniques to examine the extent to which mainstream Indian news publishes material related to the social media feed of Narendra Modi. Link to paper.
  • Innuendo as Outreach: This research looks at the role of irony and sarcasm as a means for political attack, using the example of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s use of social media. Link to paper.
  • Small data in social media studies: This paper makes the case that studying small data offers unique benefits to the study of political social media because of the nuances of political speech.  Link to paper.
  • Political Brand Image: This research looks at the use of language, images, and connections on social media to symbolic effect – in building the brand image of political actors. Link to EPW paper, TVNM paper
  • Drivers of Political Social Media in the Global South: This paper argues that the use of social media by politicians in countries with small social media using populations is driven by elite affiliation, political signaling, and a desire to circumvent mainstream media. Link to paper








  1. Thawani, U. (2018) Map of Global South Politicians online. Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-kujypIEd8B7Kn9m2D8KKBvxbKBYp5BP&usp=sharing
  2. Pal, J. (2017)  Innuendo as outreach: @narendramodi and the use of political irony on Twitter International Journal of Communications11, 4197-4218
  3. Pal, J., & Gonawela, A. (2017). Studying political communication on Twitter: The case for small dataCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 97-102
  4. Pal, J., Chandra, P., & Vydiswaran, V. V. (2016)  “Twitter and the Rebranding of Narendra Modi” Economic & Political Weekly51(8), 53.
  5. Pal, J. (2015) “Banalities Turned Viral: Narendra Modi and the Political Tweet” Television & New Media 1–10
  6. Pal, J., Gonawela, A. (2016) “Political Social Media in the Global South” In: Dwivedi Y. et al. (eds) Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I3E 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9844.