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Is social media use associated with more or less diverse news use?

By Richard Fletcher and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

In the wake of the US election result in November and earlier in the year the outcome of the UK referendum on the European Union, some have argued that the rise of social media and its increasing role as a source of news have led to a world where people get less and less diverse information.

The terminology varies—echo chambers, filter bubbles, etc.—but the underlying concern is the same: that the rise of social media means that people get less diverse news from a narrower range of sources.

But is that actually the case? At the moment, we know surprisingly little about how people get news via social media, and how social media platforms might shape news consumption. Much of the current discussion is driven more by worry than by evidence.

Data from the 2015 Reuters Institute Digital News Report might shed some light on what is going on. It suggests that social media users in fact use significantly more different sources of news than non-users, thus challenging the filter bubble hypothesis...

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