The political consequences of online disagreement: The filtering of communication networks in a polarized political context

Xinzhi Zhang*, Wan Ying Lin, William H. Dutton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study challenges prevailing beliefs and research on the role of social media in supporting deliberation and an active public sphere. Based on a two-wave online panel survey (n = 791) of the adult population of Hong Kong, as one case of a politically polarized society, we examine the degree to which individuals disconnect from those with whom they politically disagree with on social media. The analysis indicates that exposure to disagreement does indeed lead people to filter their information repertoire by disconnecting from those with whom they disagree. A moderated mediation analysis finds that political disagreement indirectly influenced activist participation through information repertoire filtration. However, in contrast to expectations, this effect was stronger when individuals had a lower level of affective polarization. Our findings underscore the value of focusing on the behavior of users to complement research on access to information about politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications

User-Defined Keywords

  • affective polarization
  • information repertoire filtration
  • political disagreement
  • political participation

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