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News We Like to Share: How News Sharing on Social Networks Influences Voting Outcomes

50 Pages Posted: 24 May 2017 Last revised: 20 Feb 2018

Kirill Pogorelskiy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Matthew Shum

California Institute of Technology

Date Written: February 19, 2018

Abstract

We study the relationship between news sharing on social media and information aggregation by voting. Our context-neutral laboratory experimental treatments mimic the features of social networks in the presence of media bias to address concerns that voters obtaining their political news via social media may become more polarized in their voting behavior. Our results suggest that these concerns are warranted: subjects selectively share news that is favorable to their party and do not account for biased news signals in their voting decisions. Overall, subjects behave as if news sharing and voting is expressive of their induced partisanship even though by design, their preferences have a common value component. Given these patterns of individual behavior, the welfare implications of social networks reflect the underlying quality of the shared news: with unbiased media, social networks raise collective decision making efficiency, but efficiency deteriorates markedly in the presence of media bias, as news signals become less reliable.

Keywords: Social Networks, News Sharing, Voting, Social Media, Media Bias, Polarization, Lab Experiment

JEL Classification: C72, C91, C92, D72, D83, D85

Suggested Citation

Pogorelskiy, Kirill and Shum, Matthew, News We Like to Share: How News Sharing on Social Networks Influences Voting Outcomes (February 19, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2972231 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2972231

Kirill Pogorelskiy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://warwick.ac.uk/kbp

Matthew Shum (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

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