Political polarization on twitter: Implications for the use of social media in digital governments

Sounman Hong, Sun Hyoung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates two competing opinions regarding the role of social media platforms in partisan polarization. The “echo chambers” view focuses on the highly fragmented, customized, and niche-oriented aspects of social media and suggests these venues foster greater political polarization of public opinion. An alternative, which we term the “crosscutting interactions” view, focuses on the openness of the Internet and social media, with different opinions just a click away. This view thus argues that polarization would not be especially problematic on these outlets. Exploiting the variation among members of the U.S. House of Representatives in measured positions of political ideology, this study estimates the association between politicians' ideological positions and the size of their Twitter readership. The evidence shows a strong polarization on Twitter readership, which supports the echo chambers view. Lastly, we discuss the implications of this evidence for governments' use of social media in collecting new ideas and opinions from the public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-782
Number of pages6
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


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