Ideological Segregation and the Effects of Social Media on News Consumption
Carnegie Mellon University
Justin M. Rao
December 4, 2013
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, L82working papers series
Date posted: December 6, 2013 ; Last revised: March 29, 2014
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