Media Consumption

Social media has altered the way we consume and interact with different forms of media. CSMaP experts analyze the real-world implications of our online consumption, and how it impacts the political landscape.

Academic Research

  • Journal Article

    The Effects of Facebook and Instagram on the 2020 Election: A Deactivation Experiment

    • Hunt Alcott, 
    • Matthew Gentzkow, 
    • Winter Mason, 
    • Arjun Wilkins, 
    • Pablo Barberá
    • Taylor Brown, 
    • Juan Carlos Cisneros, 
    • Adriana Crespo-Tenorio, 
    • Drew Dimmery, 
    • Deen Freelon, 
    • Sandra González-Bailón
    • Andrew M. Guess
    • Young Mie Kim, 
    • David Lazer, 
    • Neil Malhotra, 
    • Devra Moehler, 
    • Sameer Nair-Desai, 
    • Houda Nait El Barj, 
    • Brendan Nyhan, 
    • Ana Carolina Paixao de Queiroz, 
    • Jennifer Pan, 
    • Jaime Settle, 
    • Emily Thorson, 
    • Rebekah Tromble, 
    • Carlos Velasco Rivera, 
    • Benjamin Wittenbrink, 
    • Magdalena Wojcieszak
    • Saam Zahedian, 
    • Annie Franco, 
    • Chad Kiewiet De Jong, 
    • Natalie Jomini Stroud, 
    • Joshua A. Tucker

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2024

    View Article View abstract

    We study the effect of Facebook and Instagram access on political beliefs, attitudes, and behavior by randomizing a subset of 19,857 Facebook users and 15,585 Instagram users to deactivate their accounts for 6 wk before the 2020 U.S. election. We report four key findings. First, both Facebook and Instagram deactivation reduced an index of political participation (driven mainly by reduced participation online). Second, Facebook deactivation had no significant effect on an index of knowledge, but secondary analyses suggest that it reduced knowledge of general news while possibly also decreasing belief in misinformation circulating online. Third, Facebook deactivation may have reduced self-reported net votes for Trump, though this effect does not meet our preregistered significance threshold. Finally, the effects of both Facebook and Instagram deactivation on affective and issue polarization, perceived legitimacy of the election, candidate favorability, and voter turnout were all precisely estimated and close to zero.

  • Journal Article

    Estimating the Ideology of Political YouTube Videos

    Political Analysis, 2024

    View Article View abstract

    We present a method for estimating the ideology of political YouTube videos. As online media increasingly influences how people engage with politics, so does the importance of quantifying the ideology of such media for research. The subfield of estimating ideology as a latent variable has often focused on traditional actors such as legislators, while more recent work has used social media data to estimate the ideology of ordinary users, political elites, and media sources. We build on this work by developing a method to estimate the ideologies of YouTube videos, an important subset of media, based on their accompanying text metadata. First, we take Reddit posts linking to YouTube videos and use correspondence analysis to place those videos in an ideological space. We then train a text-based model with those estimated ideologies as training labels, enabling us to estimate the ideologies of videos not posted on Reddit. These predicted ideologies are then validated against human labels. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of this method by applying it to the watch histories of survey respondents with self-identified ideologies to evaluate the prevalence of echo chambers on YouTube. Our approach gives video-level scores based only on supplied text metadata, is scalable, and can be easily adjusted to account for changes in the ideological climate. This method could also be generalized to estimate the ideology of other items referenced or posted on Reddit.

    Date Posted

    Feb 13, 2024

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