Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2363701
 


 



Ideological Segregation and the Effects of Social Media on News Consumption


Seth Flaxman


Carnegie Mellon University

Sharad Goel


Microsoft Research

Justin M. Rao


Microsoft Research

December 4, 2013


Abstract:     
Scholars have argued that online social networks and personalized web search increase ideological segregation. We investigate the impact of these potentially polarizing channels on news consumption by examining web browsing histories for 50,000 U.S.-located users who regularly read online news. We find that individuals indeed exhibit substantially higher segregation when reading articles shared on social networks or returned by search engines, a pattern driven by opinion pieces. However, these polarizing articles from social media and web search constitute only 2% of news consumption. Consequently, while recent technological changes do increase ideological segregation, the magnitude of the effect is limited.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 42

Keywords: media economics, information acquisition, media bias, online behavior, big data, confirmation bias

JEL Classification: D83, L86, L82

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Date posted: December 6, 2013 ; Last revised: March 29, 2014

Suggested Citation

Flaxman, Seth and Goel, Sharad and Rao, Justin M., Ideological Segregation and the Effects of Social Media on News Consumption (December 4, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2363701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2363701

Contact Information

Seth Flaxman
Carnegie Mellon University ( email )
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
Sharad Goel (Contact Author)
Microsoft Research ( email )
641 Avenue of Americas
New York, NY 10011
United States
Justin M. Rao
Microsoft Research ( email )
641 Avenue of Americas
7th Floor
New York, NY 11249
United States
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