Testing popular news discourse on the “echo chamber” effect: Does political polarisation occur among those relying on social media as their primary politics news source?
Keywords:Echo chamber, filter bubble, political polarization, digital news consumption, social media, social news, EU politics
Since 2016, online social networks (OSNs), especially their “big data” algorithms, have been intensively blamed in popular news discourse for acting as echo chambers. These chambers entrap like-minded voters in closed ideological circles that cause serious damage to democratic processes. This study examines this “echo chamber” argument through the rather divisive case of EU politics among EU citizens. Based on an exploratory secondary analysis of the Eurobarometer 86.2 survey dataset, we investigate whether the reliance on OSNs as a primary EU political news source can lead people to more polarisation in EU-related political beliefs and attitudes than a reliance on traditional media. We found little evidence for this polarisation, lending credence to a rejection of social media’s “echo chamber” effect.
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