Seminar: Exposure to News in the Digital Age: How Online Networks Shape the Consumption of Political Information - Sandra Gónzalez-Bailón (University of Pennsylvania)

14:00-15:00 (IST) Wednesday, March 24.

Please register for this event here.


Abstract: The abundance of media options is a central feature of today’s information environment, and information simultaneously flows through many parallel channels (i.e., the web, social media, TV). In this talk I will discuss recent research in which we measure exposure to news across channels to (1) test claims of increasing audience fragmentation and ideological segregation and (2) measure the influence of automated accounts in distorting the salience of news sources on social media. Using an unprecedented combination of observed data from the US comprising a five-year time window and involving tens of thousands of panelists, I will show that co-exposure to diverse news is on the rise. And using social media data from two contentious political events in France and Spain, I will show that verified accounts are significantly more visible than unverified bots, and that discrepancies in source salience in social media and the web are generated by both human and bot activity. I will discuss the implications of these findings for how we think about the current communication environment, exposure to news, and ongoing attempts to limit the effects of misinformation, including social media verification policies.

About the author: Sandra González-Bailón is an Associate Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and affiliated faculty at the Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences(link is external). Prior to joining Penn, she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute(link is external) (2008-2013). She completed her doctoral degree in Nuffield College(link is external) (University of Oxford) and her undergraduate studies at the University of Barcelona(link is external). Her research lies at the intersection of network science, data mining, computational tools, and political communication. Her applied research looks at how online networks shape exposure to information, with implications for how we think about political engagement, mobilization dynamics, information diffusion, and news consumption.