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Social Media News Consumers at Higher Risk of 'information Bubbles,' Iu Study Says

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Assessing ways in which news and information are accessed online.

A new study from Indiana University suggests people who use social media for their news and information needs are at greater risk of becoming trapped in a "collective social bubble" than those who use search engines to access news.

Credit: Dimitar Nikolov, et. al./Indiana University

An Indiana University (IU) study suggests people who seek out news and information from social media are at a higher risk of becoming trapped in a "collective social bubble" compared to those who get their news and information from search engines.

The study is based on a method the IU researchers developed that devises a score based on the distribution of news stories users click through to across millions of websites. If a user clicks primarily on links leading to one or a small number of websites, they will receive a lower score than users clicking on links that lead to a large number of different sites.

The researchers used this method to analyze an anonymous database of some 100,000 Web searches by users at IU, a dataset of about 18 million clicks by more than half a million users of the AOL search engine in 2006, and 1.3 billion public posts containing links on Twitter.

The researchers found users clicking on news stories in social media received lower scores than those who sought out news stories through search engines. "Our analysis shows that people collectively access information from a significantly narrower range of sources on social media compared to search engines," says lead researcher Dimitar Nikolov.

From IU Bloomington Newsroom
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