UT researchers discover partisan memes can result in homogeneous networks

UT researchers discover partisan memes can result in homogeneous networks

Middle for Media Engagement researchers discovered interacting with partisan memes can result in the creation of networks with like-minded folks, in line with a examine revealed in early June. 

Also referred to as homophilous networks, these teams are stuffed with customers who work together with individuals who share related ideologies greater than they work together with folks of opposing ideologies, in line with the examine. 

“It’s actually essential that we take into account these issues that we don’t consider as containing political data, however they’re definitely speaking attitudes and beliefs about politics that might have some influence on folks,” stated Jessica Collier, a former postdoctoral fellow on the Middle for Media Engagement.

When it comes to partisan data, folks are likely to react extra strongly to partisan memes, corresponding to responding with a “love” or “haha” versus information, which tends to get extra “like” reactions, in line with the examine. Nevertheless, folks do reply equally to information and memes when it comes to sharing, commenting and blocking.

“Individuals seeing counter-attitudinal memes usually tend to block the meme sharers than these seeing pro-attitudinal memes, thus growing the homogeneity of on-line networks,” in line with the examine.

In pretests, scientists examined a number of methods to cease the creation of homophilous networks, corresponding to including one other sort of Fb response, in line with lead researcher Yujin Kim.

Whereas different options didn’t produce outcomes, Kim stated reminding contributors of their numerous Fb buddy networks confirmed some promise. The examine primed contributors by asking them in regards to the totally different areas of their lives their Fb connections got here from, which helped in some conditions, though this resolution obtained blended outcomes.

“The concept is named context collapse, the place social media is that this place the place you’ve all of those contexts out of your life that all of the sudden collapse into one the place you’re sharing data with all of these folks,“ Collier stated. “I believe extra (analysis) is required to grasp (how that atmosphere impacts) the best way that we share data.”

Collier stated being uncovered to an opposing viewpoint generally is a good factor, however Kim pointed to its potential unfavorable results as nicely.

“Ideally, folks can have entry to extra numerous level of views, however it additionally has some backlash impact, like when folks see the counter-attitudinal, or non-like minded contents, they really can (polarize extra),” Kim stated. “Simply exposing the totally different viewpoint doesn’t at all times work.”

Collier stated these findings may probably translate to different platforms.

“If you’re finding out social media, it’s this fixed query of what new platform is (going to) overtake folks within the second that you simply’re attempting to check one other one,” Collier stated. “Thankfully, memes switch throughout platforms, so I believe the findings in all probability do as nicely.”