Echo Chambers on Social Media: A comparative analysis

by   Matteo Cinelli, et al.

Recent studies have shown that online users tend to select information adhering to their system of beliefs, ignore information that does not, and join groups - i.e., echo chambers - around a shared narrative. Although a quantitative methodology for their identification is still missing, the phenomenon of echo chambers is widely debated both at scientific and political level. To shed light on this issue, we introduce an operational definition of echo chambers and perform a massive comparative analysis on more than 1B pieces of contents produced by 1M users on four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Gab. We infer the leaning of users about controversial topics - ranging from vaccines to abortion - and reconstruct their interaction networks by analyzing different features, such as shared links domain, followed pages, follower relationship and commented posts. Our method quantifies the existence of echo-chambers along two main dimensions: homophily in the interaction networks and bias in the information diffusion toward likely-minded peers. We find peculiar differences across social media. Indeed, while Facebook and Twitter present clear-cut echo chambers in all the observed dataset, Reddit and Gab do not. Finally, we test the role of the social media platform on news consumption by comparing Reddit and Facebook. Again, we find support for the hypothesis that platforms implementing news feed algorithms like Facebook may elicit the emergence of echo-chambers.


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