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News Sharing and Voting on Social Networks: An Experimental Study

46 Pages Posted: 24 May 2017 Last revised: 15 Jul 2017

Kirill Pogorelskiy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Matthew Shum

California Institute of Technology

Date Written: July 12, 2017

Abstract

We study the relationship between social media and information aggregation by voting. Our experimental treatments mimic the features of social networks in the presence of media bias in order to address concerns that voters obtaining their political news via social media may become more polarized in their voting behavior. Our results suggest substantial effects of polarization at the expense of efficient information aggregation: subjects engage in "liking" behavior by selectively sharing the news that is favorable to their party and downweighting unfavorable news in their voting decisions. At the same time, social networks raise collective decision making efficiency, if there is no media bias. All in all, subjects behave as if information sharing and voting is expressive of their party preferences even when (by design) their preferences have a common value component. We supplement lab results with survey evidence from Pakistan, and find that it is broadly consistent with these patterns.

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 Sharing and Voting on Social Networks: An Experimental Study (July 12, 2017). 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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