Ben Shapiro in the Hybrid Media System

Bensu Arslan

Being a conservative political commentator, show host, and writer, Ben Shapiro has become one of the most famous American influencers. He is a prime example of how right-wing metapolitical influencers use digital media to make their mark on public discourse. Through using various social media platforms and following algorithms, Shapiro creates and maintains his fanbase. While updating social media accounts, he frequently mentions other media endeavours, such as his blog, The Daily Wire, podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, and his (book) publications.

In this article we delve into Ben Shapiro’s case study with a research focus on input, uptake, and algorithmic practices. It requires a close examination of not only Ben Shapiro and his behaviour, but also the platforms he engages, the uptake by his audience, and, once again, the interaction between input, platforms, and uptake. To accomplish this, we formed three subgroups in order to explore the questions listed below:

  1. How does Ben Shapiro use different social media platforms and their affordances in order to construct a narrative and create an intimate relationship with his followers?
  2. How does he use Facebook to have a voice in the hybrid media system in the distribution of fake news?
  3. How do the algorithmic systems help him to create a discourse with his audience and generate uptake?

In our methodology article, we describe how everything is put in place. It provides a detailed account of the methodologies and methods used in the articles in this file, with a focus on digital discourse analytical methods. This file contains concepts such as discourse analysis, interviews, and live ethnography.

To begin, the article on platform affordances and quantified storytelling will discuss the concepts and theoretical framework to see how Shapiro tells his story on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The theoretical knowledge will then be analyzed on various platforms. This analysis will provide more insight into how these platforms can influence the stories that are told.

Secondly, the article on social media input will illustrate how the specific uses of words, images, and references can increase the difficulty in detecting and distinguishing fake news. Analyzing Shapiro’s Facebook page, we will study how the tactic he uses can provoke both engagement and outrage among social media users.

Thirdly, the article on Shapiro’s uptake analysis will provide insight into how algorithms and databases work. Diving into “algorithmic entextualization” and “audience labour” theories, we will examine how Ben Shapiro uses the advances of the algorithmic systems to create a discourse with his fans and subscribers and generate uptake on social media platforms.

Last but not least, the fact sheet brings together the knowledge obtained through a visual overview of Ben Shapiro's digital interaction. For instance, it provides a graphic representation of how he reaches his audience but also depicts the way he builds his story and the way he brings misinformation into the world.


Portret of Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro in the hybrid media system: methodology and methods

Ruben den Boer
12 minutes to read

This article presents a detailed account of the methodologies and methods we deployed while investigating how Ben Shapiro uses mainstream digital media to have a voice in the hybrid media system.

Picture of Ben Shapiro, in the background we see some of his social media posts

Telling stories using platform affordances: an analysis on Ben Shapiro’s social media use

Ruben den Boer
16 minutes to read

Platforms are not neutral. Their affordances and quantification shape the stories we tell and read. This article delves into this phenomenon by focusing on how Ben Shapiro tells his metapolitical stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.