Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2363701
 


 



Filter Bubbles, Echo Chambers, and Online News Consumption


Seth Flaxman


Department of Statistics

Sharad Goel


Stanford University

Justin M. Rao


Microsoft Research; Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research - Redmond

March 22, 2016

Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 80, Special Issue, 2016, pp. 298–320

Abstract:     
Online publishing, social networks, and web search have dramatically lowered the costs of producing, distributing, and discovering news articles. Some scholars argue that such technological changes increase exposure to diverse perspectives, while others worry that they increase ideological segregation. We address the issue by examining webbrowsing histories for 50,000 US-located users who regularly read online news. We find that social networks and search engines are associated with an increase in the mean ideological distance between individuals. However, somewhat counterintuitively, these same channels also are associated with an increase in an individual's exposure to material from his or her less preferred side of the political spectrum. Finally, the vast majority of online news consumption is accounted for by individuals simply visiting the home pages of their favorite, typically mainstream, news outlets, tempering the consequences -- both positive and negative -- of recent technological changes. We thus uncover evidence for both sides of the debate, while also finding that the magnitude of the effects is relatively modest

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: July 27, 2016

Suggested Citation

Flaxman, Seth and Goel, Sharad and Rao, Justin M., Filter Bubbles, Echo Chambers, and Online News Consumption (March 22, 2016). Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 80, Special Issue, 2016, pp. 298–320. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2363701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2363701

Contact Information

Seth Flaxman
Department of Statistics ( email )
24-29 St Giles'
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3LB
United Kingdom
Sharad Goel (Contact Author)
Stanford University ( email )
475 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
HOME PAGE: http://5harad.com
Justin M. Rao
Microsoft Research ( email )
641 Avenue of Americas
7th Floor
New York, NY 11249
United States
Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research - Redmond ( email )
Building 99
Redmond, WA
United States
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