Social media, sentiment and public opinions: evidence from #Brexit and #USElection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Reading
  • University of California


This paper studies information diffusion in social media and the potential role of bots in influencing public opinions. Using Twitter data on the 2016 E.U. Referendum (“Brexit”) and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, we find that diffusion of information on Twitter is largely complete within 1–2 h. Stronger diffusion between agents with similar beliefs is consistent with the “echo chambers” view of social media. Our results are consistent the notion that bots could have a tangible effect on the tweeting activity of humans and that the degree of bots’ influence depends on whether bots provide information consistent with humans’ priors. Overall, our results suggest that the aggressive use of Twitter bots, coupled with the fragmentation of social media and the role of sentiment, could enhance political polarization.


Original languageEnglish
Article number103772
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Economic Review
Early online date24 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Brexit, U.S. Election, Information diffusion, Echo chambers, Political Bots, Twitter