DOI: 10.5176/2301-3710_JMComm14.23

Authors: Afifa El Bayed, Christopher Gahler, Lukas Fricke, Timothy Goedeking


The current study investigates about the possible role playing of both opinion leadership and gatekeeping by the same entities in the context of social networks. By using Social Network Analysis as a research method, the present research tries to quantitatively and structurally single out in social networks members capable of acting as both opinion leaders and gatekeepers. Interestingly, the results reveal the existence of exactly four members in five-hundred-sized networks, capable of playing both roles, while reaching at least 50 {6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} of their network or at most around 70{6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} of its members. In other words, these four members are well placed to select the information received by 250 to 300 persons in a social media context, and perhaps even influence their opinions with its regard. These findings incite us on reflecting about the possibly arising consequences of the studied phenomena, especially with respect to their ethical implications.

Keywords: Social media; social networks; diffusion of information; opinion leadership; gatekeeping; Social Network Analysis; Facebook


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