Dr. Itai Himelboim
About: Dr. Himelboim, director of the SEE Suite, studies the role social media plays in news, politics and international communication. Through applying network analysis, he examines political talk and information flow.
Ph.D. (2008) – School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota
M.A. (2003) – Department of Political Science (emphasis on Political communication), Tel-Aviv University
B.A. (1999) – Department of Communication and Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University
Research Interests and Activities
My research involves computer-mediated social networks and their implications for political communication, international communication and the news. I examine political discussions on online forums and the micro-blogging social media Twitter, as well as international networks, based on foreign news reporting and the flow of information technologies. The role of news media, traditional and online, in political communication is examined via their websites and their presence in social media spaces.
Taking a network-related theoretical approach to research is natural to communication as a discipline, as it focuses on the relationships and communication patterns among Internet users, individuals and organizations. This is valid particularly in online spaces that merge interpersonal and mass communication. Across online technologies, I identify the naturally occurring patterns of communications among social actors in online spaces; how these patterns indicate how we choose our information sources; who the most connected users – hubs – in these networks are; and what role news media plays in these primarily interpersonal-communication spaces.
My research has been published in top journals in the field, including Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Communication Research, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC) and Journal of Public Relations Research. These and other studies have been presented in major national and international conferences in the field.
Abstract: The movement to free Al Jazeera journalists (#FreeAJStaff), imprisoned by Egyptian authorities, utilized Twitter over almost two years, between 2014 and 2015. This study applied a social networks approach to study patterns of information flow, social mediators, and clusters, formed by the #FreeAJStaff movement on Twitter.Analysis of 22 months of data found social mediators […]Read More
Abstract: This study explored how social media, especially Twitter, serves as a viable place for communicating about cancer. Using a 2-step analytic method that combined social network analysis and computer-aided content analysis, this study investigated (a) how different types of network structures explain retweeting behavior and (b) which types of tweets are retweeted and why […]Read More
Abstract: This study integrates network and content analyses to examine valence-based homophily on Twitter or the tendency for individuals to interact with those expressing similar valence. During the 2012 federal election cycle, we collected Twitter conversations about 10 controversial political topics and mapped their network ties. Using network analysis, we discovered clusters—subgroups of highly self-connected […]Read More
Abstract: To test and elaborate as necessary the Social-Mediated Crisis Communication (SMCC) model’s key publics classifications (Liu et al., 2012) and to provide practical insight to public identification for crisis communication planning and response, this study uses network analysis to first identify clustered publics in airline Twitter networks –direct social media followers that are centered […]Read More
Abstract: Social media platforms provide world governments with the opportunity to distribute news content from their broadcast channels directly to foreign publics [Wallerstein, I. (1974). The modern world system. New York: Academic Press] World System Theory, which has successfully explained and predicted the structure of international news flow, is now being challenged. Specifically, these social platforms […]Read More
Abstract: This work looks at the intersection of emotion, content, and engagement when a topic of importance is discussed on social media. Based on a conceptual framework connecting the elements of social engagement – the content topic, the emotion used and the action taken – researchers used both content analysis and network analysis to study […]Read More
I teach in the area of new communication technologies and social networks. I developed and teach Network Analysis of Social Media (JRMC 8240) for graduate students and Social Media Analytics (TELE 4450/NMIX 4200) at the undergraduate level. I also teach the graduate level seminar Mass Communication and Society (JRMC 8030), focusing on new communication technologies and undergraduate classes entitled Media and Technology (Tele 3290), Digital Media Production (Tele 4290/NMIX 4110) and Media Research and Theory (Tele 3410).