Myth or Fact? Echo Chambers in Online Political News Consumption

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The dissemination of information through digital media has changed the process of being informed about current political events. Previous research evidence extends in two opposite directions: Digital platforms improve the functioning of democracy through amplifying of information sources while they may serve as echo chambers allowing people to easily seek out information complementing their opinions, thereby generating political polarization. This study integrating theories of selective exposure and uses and gratifications seeks to explore selective exposure in digital media and users’ motivations to consume and share information reinforcing their views. The study was approved by the Beykent University Social and Human Sciences Etthics Committee decision dated 11.01.2021. A maximum variation sample of 20 politically interested individuals explored their political news consumption habits and motivations under conditions of selective exposure through 5 synchronous online focus groups in a 2-month period. The data was analysed utilizing a thematic approach. Two main themes emerged. (i) Selective exposure to political news and motivations: access to unbiased political information was identified as the main motivator of selective exposure. Guidance was found to be the key motivator to obtain political information. (ii) Online echo chambers: The vast array of political information sources may increase online polarization. Respondents’ political news consumption behaviour and attitude towards people holding opposing views may demonstrate the existence of echo chambers along with political bullying.


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Turkish Studies (Elektronik)

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