News Feeds and User Engagement: Evidence from the Reddit News Tab

43 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2022

See all articles by Alex Moehring

Alex Moehring

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: August 18, 2022

Abstract

We study how the introduction of a new non-personalized news feed impacts user engagement quantity, quality, and diversity on Reddit. In June 2018, Reddit introduced the News tab on iOS devices that surfaces popular content from a curated list of news-related communities. We leverage this natural experiment to identify the causal effects of the News tab on iOS user engagement in a difference-in-differences design. We find that the News tab increases the share of iOS devices that engage with news-related content and the new engagement is not meaningfully different in quality from existing engagement. Additionally, we find that the diversity of engagement within news categories and within articles from publishers across the political spectrum increases as a result of the News tab. These results suggest that non-personalized feeds can be an important tool to mitigate algorithmic filter bubbles.

Keywords: Social Media, Filter Bubbles, News Feeds

Suggested Citation

Moehring, Alex, News Feeds and User Engagement: Evidence from the Reddit News Tab (August 18, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4193945 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4193945

Alex Moehring (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

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