Reshares on Social Media Amplify Political News But Do Not Detectably Affect Beliefs or Opinions

Using a field experiment conducted over a 3-month period during the US 2020 election, we measured the effects that exposure to reshared content has on users' feeds and political beliefs.


We studied the effects of exposure to reshared content on Facebook during the 2020 US election by assigning a random set of consenting, US-based users to feeds that did not contain any reshares over a 3-month period. We find that removing reshared content substantially decreases the amount of political news, including content from untrustworthy sources, to which users are exposed; decreases overall clicks and reactions; and reduces partisan news clicks. Further, we observe that removing reshared content produces clear decreases in news knowledge within the sample, although there is some uncertainty about how this would generalize to all users. Contrary to expectations, the treatment does not significantly affect political polarization or any measure of individual-level political attitudes.

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