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

48 Pages Posted: 24 May 2017

See all articles by Kirill Pogorelskiy

Kirill Pogorelskiy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Matthew Shum

California Institute of Technology

Date Written: February 21, 2019

Abstract

We study the relationship between news sharing on social networks and information aggre- gation 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 getting political news via social media may become more polarized in their voting behavior. Our results suggest that these concerns are warranted: subjects share news that is favorable to their party more often than the unfavorable news and take biased news at face value in their voting decisions, ignoring news sources. At the same time, the welfare implications of social media are driven by the quality of the shared news: with unbiased media, news sharing on social networks raises collective decision making efficiency, but efficiency deteriorates markedly in the presence of me- dia bias despite the theoretical possibility of a moderate bias enabling more informative voting. Poor quality information, including uninformative (“fake”) news, lowers efficiency more than do filter bubbles enabled by social media.

Keywords: News Sharing, Social Networks, Voting, Media Bias, Fake News, Polarization, Filter Bubble, Lab Experiments

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 21, 2019). 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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