Asymmetric ideological segregation in exposure to political news on Facebook

Journal Article
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Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon
David Lazer
Pablo Barberá
Meiqing Zhang
Hunt Allcott
Taylor Brown
Adriana Crespo-Tenorio
Deen Freelon
Matthew Gentzkow
Andrew Guess
Shanto Iyengar
Young Mie Kim
Neil Malhotra
Devra Moehler
Brendan Nyhan
Jennifer Pan
Carlos Velasco Rivera
Jaime Settle
Emily Thorson
Rebekah Tromble
Arjun Wilkins
Magdalena Wojcieszak
Chad Kiewiet De Jonge
Annie Franco
Winter Mason
Natalie Jomini Stroud
Joshua Tucker
Asymmetric ideological segregation in exposure to political news on Facebook

Does Facebook enable ideological segregation in political news consumption? We analyzed exposure to news during the US 2020 election using aggregated data for 208 million US Facebook users. We compared the inventory of all political news that users could have seen in their feeds with the information that they saw (after algorithmic curation) and the information with which they engaged. We show that (i) ideological segregation is high and increases as we shift from potential exposure to actual exposure to engagement; (ii) there is an asymmetry between conservative and liberal audiences, with a substantial corner of the news ecosystem consumed exclusively by conservatives; and (iii) most misinformation, as identified by Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program, exists within this homogeneously conservative corner, which has no equivalent on the liberal side. Sources favored by conservative audiences were more prevalent on Facebook’s news ecosystem than those favored by liberals.

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