Political Discussions in Homogeneous and Cross-Cutting Communication Spaces

Abstract

Online platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, provide users with a rich set of features for sharing and consuming political information, expressing political opinions, and exchanging potentially contrary political views. In such activities, two types of communication spaces naturally emerge: those dominated by exchanges between politically homogeneous users and those that allow and encourage crosscutting exchanges in politically heterogeneous groups. While research on political talk in online environments abounds, we know surprisingly little about the potentially varying nature of discussions in politically homogeneous spaces as compared to cross-cutting communication spaces. To fill this gap, we use Reddit to explore the nature of political discussions in homogeneous and cross-cutting communication spaces. In particular, we develop an analytical template to study interaction and linguistic patterns within and between politically homogeneous and heterogeneous communication spaces. Our analyses reveal different behavioral patterns in homogeneous and cross-cutting communications spaces. We discuss theoretical and practical implications in the context of research on political talk online.

Publication
Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM)