Do users tend to consume only like-minded political information online? We point to two problems with the existing knowledge about this debate. First, the measurement of media preferences by the typical means of surveys is less reliable than behavioral data. Second, most studies have analyzed only the extent of online exposure to like-minded content, not the users’ complete web-browsing repertoire. This study used both survey data and real-life browsing behavior (661,483 URLs from 15,976 websites visited by 402 participants) for the period 7 weeks prior to the 2013 Israeli national elections. The results indicate that (1) self-report measurements of ideological exposure are inflated, (2) exposure to online ideological content accounted for only 3% of total online browsing, (3) the participants’ media repertoires are very diverse with no evidence of echo chambers, and (4) in accordance with the selective exposure hypothesis, individuals on both sides are more exposed to like-minded content. The results are discussed in light of the selective exposure literature.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.
- Selective exposure
- audience-centric fragmentation
- network analysis
- partisan websites
- self-report measures
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science