Matthew A. Shapiro and Han Woo Park (2018) “Climate Change and YouTube: Deliberation Potential in Post-Video Discussions,” Environmental Communication, 12(1): 115-131.

Abstract

YouTube videos are a ubiquitous source of information but also a venue for users to comment on discussion boards that addend videos. There are no moderators of these discussions, and thus there is a possibility for self-appointed leaders to emerge, responding incessantly and across a genre of videos. These “elites,” as they are labelled here, use the discussion as a personal campaign tool, diminishing the deliberative potential of provocative topics. To determine whether this is happening and to complement existing research analyzing the content of comments, this paper focuses on the structure of the discussions that follow the most popular climate change-related videos. Network analysis confirms that discussions can be elite-driven, appearing in two different network structure types. Among the core group of elite commenters, most are either climate change activists or sceptics, and the most prolific commenters among this core group are activists.