Filter Bubbles, Alternative News and Political Polarization

Research question/goal: 

Many fear that selective exposure on social media and algorithmically personalized news diets promote the creation of so-called filter bubbles and echo chambers, with serious consequences for democratic societies and the functioning of political institutions and processes. In addition, researchers suspect that alternative media platforms increasingly disseminate factually dubious content. However, only few empirical studies have tackled these questions with adequate data. Against this background, this project will study whether social media and search engines result in the creation of homogeneous news diets, how, and where citizens are exposed to alternative media and factually dubious content. Moreover, it will analyse the consequences of homogeneous news use and alternative media for citizens’ trust in democracy, political institutions, and the media. The data basis will be a combination of survey data and web-tracking data that allow for the unfiltered observation of users’ news exposure on a fine-grained level.

Current stage: 

We are currently studying the consumption of news from alternative media. News articles have been scraped and aggregated to the respondent level. We have performed a topical analysis of the articles and are currently evaluating topic-specific news consumption as a predictor of attitudes towards the topics.

Fact sheet

Baden-Württemberg Stiftung
2021 to 2023
Data Sources: 
Survey data, web-tracking data
Geographic Space: