Xudong Yu

Xudong's research broadly examines the role that online information and communication technologies (ICT) play in the socio-political realm.

We interviewed Xudong Yu, a graduate student in the Department of Communication at UC Davis. In this interview, we asked Xudong to talk about his research, teaching, and a fun fact about his personal life. We should also point out that Xudong Yu is on the job market this year!

Can you tell us about project you recently completed or are working on that you are particularly excited about?

Xudong: In a project recently completed, I scraped over one million tweets sent by 564 American political elites (including members of US House and Senate, Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominees from 2000 to 2020, and members of the Trump Cabinet) and utilized machine learning techniques to reliably classify the tone of the tweets as positive, neutral, or negative toward their in-party and out-party. I found that politicians focus more on promoting their own party on social media, not on bashing the opposition, a finding that runs contrary to the general public’s perceptions that American political elites are very hostile toward their opponents. At the same time, a problematic finding emerged from this comprehensive longitudinal research. Namely, ordinary social media users tend to engage with politicians’ tweets attacking the out-party substantially more than with tweets praising the in-party, liking the former and retweeting them much more frequently. See the preprint here https://osf.io/rhmb9/

Would you share a memory about a time when you had a real impact on a student or had a big teaching accomplishment.

Xudong: In the media effects class where I worked as a TA, many students wrote in their reflections that after taking this class, they started to realize how their perceptions of the world were largely impacted by media. They also wrote that they would try to correct their misperceptions and stereotypes, be more openminded, and respect different opinions and values. I am so glad and proud that we made a difference in our students’ lives. 

What is a fun fact about you that other people might not know?

Xudong: I never cooked before I started my PhD because I did not like cooking smells. But now I enjoy cooking in my free time. It helps me to clear my mind and escape from the pressure. I also play video games when I am not working.

Where can people learn more about your research?

Xudong: Please see my Google Scholar page.