Internet information and communication behavior during a political moment: The Iraq war, March 2003

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Abstract

This article explores the Internet as a resource for political information and communication in March 2003, when American troops were first sent to Iraq, offering us a unique setting of political context, information use, and technology. Employing a national survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life project, we examine the political information behavior of the Internet respondents through an exploratory factor analysis; analyze the effects of personal demographic attributes and political attitudes, traditional and new media use, and technology on online behavior through multiple regression analysis; and assess the online political information and communication behavior of supporters and dissenters of the Iraq War. The factor analysis suggests four factors: activism, support, information seeking, and communication. The regression analysis indicates that gender, political attitudes and beliefs, motivation, traditional media consumption, perceptions of bias in the media, and computer experience and use predict online political information behavior, although the effects of these variables differ for the four factors. The information and communication behavior of supporters and dissenters of the Iraq War differed significantly. We conclude with a brief discussion of the value of “interdisciplinary poaching” for advancing the study of Internet information practices.

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