The increasing use of social networks has given rise to a new kind of relations between residents and authorities at the municipal level, where residents can speak directly to administrators and representatives, can take part in open discussions, and may have more direct involvement and influence on local affairs. The more direct democracy facilitated by social media outlets fascinates communication and political science researchers. But while most of their attention is drawn to national politics, the municipal arena can be even more affected by these new means of direct communication. This paper focuses on municipal administration on Facebook, and analyzes the discourse that has developed between citizens and local administrators on municipal Facebook pages, using automatic digital tools.
The formal Facebook pages of all of the cities in Israel were extracted using digital tools, and all posts and comments published on these pages in a period of six months were analyzed using automatic linguistic analysis tools that provided information regarding the use and frequencies of words and terms in the texts.
The paper presents the prominent topics, use of language, and basic features of citizens--municipalities interactions in formal Facebook pages. The study discusses the findings, their implications, and the advantages and limitations of using digital tools to analyze texts in a digital research field.