[…] Scientists from EPFL’s Data Science Lab (dlab) in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences, with colleagues from MIT and the Mozilla Foundation have analyzed the browsing and reading habits of tens of thousands of people using a plugin used with the Firefox browser, for the first time gaining a glimpse at polarization from a content consumption perspective.
“Echo chambers are not a new thing but the real replication of these memes happens online. Until now, a lot of polarization research has been around content production because this is what we can easily measure. This population of Firefox users consented to share their data – it’s like some people donate blood for the common good, here people donated their data for the common good,” said Head of the Data Science Lab, Assistant Professor Robert West, and the study’s lead author.
Whilst there have been previous, smaller studies that measured engagement in different ways, uniquely this new study was conducted in vivo, with users going about their normal daily lives, meaning that researchers were able to follow people in their natural habitat. With access to browsing history, unlike earlier studies, this research measured the time that users spent on particular websites, and reading particular articles, rather than whether a user had visited a site or not.
This additional data provided new evidence of a greater extent of polarization than observed in prior literature, showing that people engaged much more deeply with articles matching their political persuasion, spending more time on news sources matching their partisan beliefs than other information sources. […]
Source and full article : EPFL