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Selective Engagement in the Online Public Discourse and Implications for Toxicity Regulation

Selective Engagement in the Online Public Discourse and Implications for Toxicity Regulation

Speaker: (opens in a new window)Lisa Oswald (Hertie School Berlin)

Wednesday, October 25, 14:00–14:45 (Irish time)

Please register (opens in a new window)here to receive the link and password to the online meeting and information on the room at UCD.

Abstract: Public discourse and the underlying ecosystem of political information has a central position in the logic of any democratic system and is, at the same time, the democratic element strongest affected by the digital transformation. Today, political information consumption is largely mediated through digital technologies and important political discussions have moved to online platforms. Especially when combined with established approaches of survey methodology and content analysis, computational social science commands many tools to map elements and dynamics of the online public discourse from a holistic perspective. In a project using digital trace data combined with survey data, I find that the most predictive variable for selection into political information consumption is political knowledge, not partisanship. However, people who actively write comments online show more extreme political opinions, highlighting differences between active and passive political engagement online. This differential selection pattern is further mirrored, when considering levels of social media activity in relation to comment toxicity. Taken together, these finding have important implications for the discussion of representation and eventually toxicity regulation online.

About the speaker: Lisa Oswald is a doctoral researcher in the field of computational social science at the Hertie School in Berlin. Her research focuses on public deliberation in online environments and the role of digital media in democratic politics. While integrating psychological and political science perspectives, she aims to use digital trace data and online experiments to better understand social phenomena such as climate change skepticism, online hate speech, and political polarization. She graduated from the University of Oxford, UK, with an MSc degree in Social Data Science, and from the University of Kassel, Germany, with a BSc and MSc degree in Psychology. She is currently working as a teaching assistant for the MSc courses “Introduction to Data Science” of the MSc in Data Science for Public Policy and for the course “Statistical Modeling & Causal Inference” of the policy analysis track at the Hertie School. She previously worked as a research consultant at the Hertie School’s Data Science Lab and at the Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR) in Kassel.