Just Published! Public Policy & Social Media


Public Policy and Social Media: How Sentiment Analysis Can Support Policy-Makers Across the Policy Cycle

Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche

Co-author: Fedra Negri

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs for providing data

What is worth remembering:

  • Sentiment analysis of social media posts can be useful to policy-makers
  • Social media data can serve as fire alarms to record the degree of trust in politics
  • Social media data can disclose citizens’ reaction to public policies
  • A ‘wisdom of the crowd’ approach to the evaluation of public policies is made possible by social media


This article demonstrates that, in a «Big Data» world, comments of social media users can be used to support the action of policy-makers across all the steps of the policy cycle. It applies a modern technique of Supervised Aggregated Sentiment Analysis to three public policies introduced in Italy from 2012 to 2014: the abolishment of the public funding of political parties, the «jobs act» labour market reform and the «80 euros tax bonus». Results show that social media analysis can help policy-makers to accomplish the following tasks: 1) developing synthetic indicators that serve as «fire alarms» on relevant topics; 2) rating the available policy alternatives according to citizens’ preferences; 3) monitoring citizens’ behaviours and opinions during the implementation of a public policy.