Author Archives: Anders

Just in time for summer


I just received word that my follow-up study to Picture-perfect populism: Tracing the rise of European populist parties on Facebook has been accepted for publication in New Media & Society. In this recently accepted paper – entitled The rise of Instagram as a tool for political communication – A longitudinal study of European political parties and their followers – I build on the findings of the aforementioned Facebook-focused paper and provide insights into the uses of Instagram by European political parties. The abstract reads as follows:

“Featuring a longitudinal, structural study of European party and citizen activity on Instagram between 2012 and 2018, this paper outlines the overarching changes in the ways that Instagram has been employed for political party communication. Differentiating between populist and non-populist political parties, the results indicate that much like for other platforms such as Facebook, the former category of parties enjoy higher amounts of citizen engagement than their non-populist competitors. Detailing the uses of different types of posts by the two types of political actors, the study provides insights into how political parties have adopted and used Instagram from 2012 and onwards.”

Much like with the previous paper, I make good use of the brilliant Wes Anderson Palettes package available for R – see if you can guess which movie palette I used here. If you are interested, you can find the accepted version of the paper at or at ResearchGate. Having studied the growth of populism on both Facebook and Instagram, I guess I need to look at Twitter next?

Virtual Reykjavik

Much like everything else these days, the 2021 NordMedia Conference which was supposed to take place in Reykjavik has decided to go virtual. Which means that this year, I will be virtually involved in three presentations:

  • Askanius, T.Kaun, A.Brock, M. & Larsson, A.O. (2021). Violent misogyny in ‘the most feminist country in the world’: Discursive connections between male supremacy and white supremacy in Sweden.
  • Kalsnes, B. & Larsson, A.O. (2021). Going local on social media: Norwegian parliamentarians’ use of social media during the 2019 local election.
  • Gustafsson, N.Holmberg, N.Weinryb, N.Gullberg, C., & Larsson, A.O. (2021). Emotional Expressions on Swedish Fundraising Organizations’ Social Media Pages, 2010-2020: The Attention Economy of Emojis.

Papers for ICA 2021

Given the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 ICA conference will be held online – hopefully by 2022 we will be back to physical conferences… Anyways, my contributions this year will be as follows:

Kruschinski, S., Hassler, J., Bene, M., Ceron, A., Fenoll, V., Larsson, A.O., Magin, M., Schlosser, K. & Wurst, A-K (2021). Keep them engaged! A 12-country investigation of content features provoking user engagement on parties’ Facebook posts in the 2019 European Elections. Paper accepted for presentation at the virtual 71st Annual ICA Conference, may 27-31.

Boulianne, S. & Larsson, A.O. (2021). Engagement with Candidate Posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook during the 2019 Election. Paper accepted for presentation at the virtual 71st Annual ICA Conference, may 27-31.

Schwartz, S., Larsson, A.O. and Nelimarkka, M. (2021). Populist Platform Strategies: A comparative study of social media campaigning by Nordic right-wing populist parties. Paper accepted for presentation at the virtual 71st Annual ICA Conference, may 27-31.

“Picture-Perfect Populism”

Cover of New Media & Society

New publication out – this one took a little over a year from start to finish. The paper, which has been published online in New Media & Society, deals with the rise of populist parties in Europe and the ways in which such parties appear to dominate Facebook in terms of gaining traction on the specified platform – especially when using audio-visual means of communication. The abstract reads as follows:

“This article presents a longitudinal, structural study where party and citizen activity on Facebook is studied over a 10-year period, outlining the growing importance of audio-visual content for online campaigning purposes – as well as the rise of populist parties on the same platform. The study shows that an overall increased focus on video as a means of communication emerges as especially pertinent for native Facebook functionalities. This could have repercussions for how online political communication messages are fashioned – and also for the dependencies on platforms that are supposedly strengthened as parties make choices regarding where to invest their campaign resources. In terms of citizen engagement, the results indicate the dominance of populist parties, who have strengthened their positions on the studied platform. The dominance of populist actors will likely have repercussions for the algorithmic spread of political messages – as well as for the ways in which political messages are shaped.”

Accepted versions of the paper are available at or ResearchGate, the publisher’s version can be found here – and if I have understood things correctly, a few free pdf copies should be available following this link.

Swedish right-wingers online during the initial phases of the corona virus

Yours truly presenting online

At the end of may, in the middle of the virus craziness, I had the opportunity to take part of an online seminar on anti-democratic and extremist responses to Covid19 – mobilisations in and around Sweden organised by the research platform Rethinking Democracy at the Faculty of Culture and Society, Malmö University in collaboration with the Institute for Futures Studies in Stockholm. In my contribution, I tried to sketch out some of the tendencies that could be discerned in relation the Facebook engagement enjoyed by right-wingers in the political sphere and in the media sector. In short, right-wingers appear to be utilising virus-related news in order to “re-frame” their typical key issues, such as immigration. The entire seminar can be viewed here.

“O Canada”

I am back in Oslo after a few days in Ottawa where I presented some of my ongoing work (with lead author Shelley Boulianne) on social media use during the 2019 Canadian elections. The tweet embedded above shows during the Q & A portion of our presentation. This collaboration has so far resulted in a report which can be accessed here. Indeed, as this research deals with the Canadian context, the report is also available en français.

Right-wingers on the rise online: Insights from the 2018 Swedish elections

Academic publishing is a funny business – while double blind peer review is probably the best way we have at our disposal to assess the quality of scientific contributions, it is by no means a perfect system. This paper – “Right-wingers on the rise online: Insights from the 2018 Swedish elections” – was just published online published online before print in new media & society, which is considered a high-ranked journal in my field. Before I submitted it to that journal, the very same paper was desk rejected at another similarly high-ranked journal. Go figure. Anyway, the abstract reads as follows:

Political elections see several actors rise to the fore in order to influence and inform voters. Increasingly, such processes take place on social media like Facebook, where media outlets and politicians alike utilize seek promote their respective agenda. Given the recent rise of so-called hyperpartisan media—often described as purveyors of “fake news”—and populist right-wing parties across a series of western contexts, this study details the degree to which these novel actors succeed in overtaking their more mainstream or indeed established competitors when it comes to audience engagement on the mentioned platform. Focusing on the one-month period leading up to the 2018 Swedish national elections, the study finds that right-wing actors across the media and the political sector are more successful in engaging their Facebook followers than their competitors. As audience engagement is a key factor for social media success, the study closes by providing a discussion on the repercussions for professionals within the media and the political sector.

For those of you interested in reading the full paper, it is available on the publisher web page as well as in pre-print varieties over at ResearchGate and This was also the first study published where I make use of data gathered by means of CrowdTangle – more to come…

“Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo”

I’m wrapping up my stay at QUT in Brisbane where I have participated in the #AoIR2019 conference. This year, I presented some ongoing work about the changing nature of popular political party posts over time. I also served as an advisor in the Early Career Scholars Workshop which was organised as a preconference.

Picture by @raquelrecuero
Picture by @raquelrecuero – I might look sleepy, but I assure you I was not.
Panel selfie by @Timothyjgraham

We won a prize

They almost got the last name right. Almost.

A paper I co-authored with Øyvind Ihlen and Ketil Raknes was recently awarded the best paper award during the 2019 EUPRERA conference. Here’s what the jury had to say about our paper, entitled “The democratic success of Twitter as a lobbying tool”:

The paper discusses the contribution of Twitter to democratic goals of engagement and debate by asking “What type of interest groups and organizations succeed in having members of parliament react on (retweet) their Twitter messages?”. To answer this question, the authors analyzed the extent to which Norwegian politicians retweet messages from interest groups and lobbyists during normal parliamentary activity. Despite the touted democratic potential of Twitter, the researchers find that it is the powerful groups and organizations that get heard more by politicians, also on Twitter. The paper is excellently written with solid links to the relevant literature and sound methodology.