Press: Computational Propaganda: Investigating the Impact of Algorithms and Bots on Political Discourse in Europe
26 July 2021
Does engagement with opposing views help break down ideological `echo chambers’; or does it backfire and reinforce them? This question remains critical as academics, policymakers and activists grapple with the question of how to regulate political discussion on social media. In this study, we contribute to the debate by examining the impact of opposing views within a major climate change skeptic online community on Reddit. A large sample of posts (N = 3000) was manually coded as either dissonant or consonant which allowed the automated classification of the full dataset of more than 50,000 posts, with codes inferred from linked websites. We find that ideologically dissonant submissions act as a stimulant to activity in the community: they received more attention (comments) than consonant submissions, even though they received lower scores through up-voting and down-voting. Users who engaged with dissonant submissions were also more likely to return to the forum. Consistent with identity theory, confrontation with opposing views triggered activity in the forum, particularly among users that are highly engaged with the community. In light of the findings, theory of social identity and echo chambers is discussed and enhanced.
Oswald, Lisa and Jonathan Bright. “How do climate change skeptics engage with opposing views? Understanding mechanisms of social identity and cognitive dissonance in an online forum.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2102.06516. 12 February 2021. https://arxiv.org/abs/2102.06516
Oswald, Lisa and Jonathan Bright. arXiv preprint arXiv:2102.06516. 12 February 2021.
26 July 2021
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