Social media and political participation : a case study of facebook as a plaftorm of communication, mobilization and action

  • Chun Ho CHEUNG

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


Social media is increasingly used for political conversations and debate. In Hong Kong, social media has provided a convenient and accessible platform for stakeholders in the political arena to publicize their ideas and for users to be engaged in political discourse. This study aims at investigating the effects of social media on political participation among Hong Kong youth, who are generally regarded as “digital natives” and “critical citizens”. This study focuses on Facebook, the most widely-used social networking site in Hong Kong, and examines how Facebook use, connection and interactivity with political actors on Facebook, exposure to political information on Facebook and perceived information quality of Facebook relate to online and offline political participation among young people in Hong Kong.

Questionnaires are collected from local post-secondary students and graduates aged between 18 and 29. Findings show that connection with political actors on Facebook and exposure to political information on Facebook mediate the impact of Facebook use on political participation, which echo the results of previous studies. Semistructured interviews are also conducted with sampled youth in order to explore the perception of Hong Kong youth on Facebook in terms of the intensity of interaction with political actors via Facebook pages and the quality of political information disseminated on Facebook. In light of the concept of public sphere and its later revisions, this research argues that social media add value to political engagement by offering alternative news and information source and facilitating a vibrant discussion of politics online. However, the effects of social media have to be qualified. Reactions to political information on Facebook and subsequent decisions on political participation also involve the expression of emotions and spontaneous response to a critical event, rather than merely depending on rational and critically informed debate.

Explanations to the relationships between the variables are discussed. Sociological implications on the capabilities of social media in generating social capital and engaging users in the public sphere, as well as practical implications on the multidimensional use of social media applications and the usefulness of social media for stakeholders in socio-political aspects, are proposed. This study contributes to a greater understanding of the mobilization potential of social media in both online and offline political activism.
Date of Award10 Sept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan University
SupervisorHon Fai CHEN (Supervisor) & Hau Nung Annie CHAN (Co-supervisor)

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