Political Data Voids

A Latinx Case Study


  • Claudia Flores-Saviaga
    West Virginia University

  • Rory McCaffrey
    University of Washington Seattle

  • Saiph Savage
    University of Washington Seattle


    What if there’s a high demand and very little supply in the information economy? Data voids as coined by Golebiewski and Boyd (2019), are pockets on the internet where very little information available causes disproportionately high overrepresentation of relevant but unreliable sources. While data voids themselves are not inherently problematic, the lack of competing information magnifies any content that enters; opening potential for misinformation, conspiracy indoctrination, and manipulation. This research investigates the presence of potential data voids surrounding United States, political topics within the Latinx-oriented Facebook communities (pew research).

    Data voids that have been explicitly researched are short tail, meaning that a lack of information is already acknowledged and more information will be produced to clear up most confusion surrounding that topic. Alternatively, this research investigates long tail data voids, where a lack of information persists, and when unaddressed, exacerbates particular ideologies.

    Data incorporated for this study comes from Crowdtangle, a public insights tool owned and operated by Facebook. Facebook groups and pages are identified if they are A) Facebook pages of Latinx-oriented news media outlets described by the Latino News Media Research group at City University of New York or B) Have explicit Latinx (Peruvian, Cuban, Hispanic) and United States (New York, Biden, Democrat) identfiers in the title. All groups and pages are public.

    Posts are collected from all identified Latinx-groups within the time frame of August 18, 2020 (Joe Biden's Democratic Nomination) until the election on November 3rd, 2020.

    Posts are then faceted into three groups depending on group and page name:
    █ Geo-Cultural:if the United States identifier lacks political terminology
    █ Political: if the United States identifier is political
    █ News: if the page is associated with a Latino news outlet.