Homophily in Facebook Political Discussion

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Aug 20, 2023
Cite this
Date added
Pages:  4
Words:  1308
Order Original Essay

How it works

This paper will discuss the ways in which the common use of the social networking site, Facebook, influences the way users engage in political discussions. Facebook provides a platform for promoting individual political views. Through the use of algorithmic programming and personal privacy settings, the exposure to cross-cutting content is limited, all while homophily in social networks has increased in ideological affiliation. Through such factors as the use of image sharing, the creation of memes, and clickbait headlines, users are influenced by their peers’ political posts.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

Communicating political discussions through the use of Facebook encourages both engagement and avoidance.

Finally, the views of democracy have changed and have influenced both a negative and positive association with political topics. Homophily in Political Discussions on Facebook In recent history, the distribution of mass media and information through television stations and newspapers have steadily declined, as more people are turning to social networking sites to provide news and civic information (Bakshy, et al., 2015). Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are being used as a platform for promoting individual political views.

Much of the political information that is being exposed to individuals not particularly interested in following current political affairs are often exposed to the topic through politically engaged peers on social networking sites (Bene, 2017). The reliance on Facebook as a source for political information limits the exposure to differing views and cross-cutting content. Much of the information being shared is through impressionable images, fabricated memes, and attention-getting headlines.

It is important to know the possible consequences of only being exposed to incomplete, homophilic political news sharing. In response, this review will discuss the roles Facebook has in promoting individual political views through the use of algorithmic programming and individual privacy settings. The review will consider how the use of Facebook affects exposure to differing political views and the challenges that come from only being exposed to like-minded political views. Finally, the review explores how the use of images, memes, and clickbait headlines affects the way we share political information, and how such things affect our approach and association with political discussions.

Promoting Individual Political Views Politics have always been a topic of interest, yet modern technology has changed the ways in which these topics are discussed. This change is brought about by the accessibility to social networking sites like Facebook. Now more than ever, virtually any individual who wishes to publicly express their political opinions can do so with a click of a mouse. The use of Facebook creates an easily accessible environment for discussion and facilitates a platform for expressing individual political opinions.

Shah and Scheufele established that Facebook users are more likely to use Facebook for political discussion if they already consider themselves politically active or are passionate about a particular issue. These users are more likely to seek out information and establish opportunities to express political opinions publicly using social media networks (Hayes, et al., 2015). Those politically active users who make the most impact when communicating political views tend to already have a strong voice in their communities due to strong personality traits, clear intentions, and an established political self-identity (Bene, 2017).

Using online communication, individuals can carefully select the content they publicly post in order to foster the image they wish to convey. Managing this content is a form of self-presentation and fosters an aspect of public identity (Hayes, et al., 2015). Individual Privacy Settings are a common practice for avoiding political discussions among family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. In-person conversations can go awry when politics are brought up, especially among those with differing ideological views.

The use of Facebook brings new challenges as people are given the readily open opportunity to express personal political views from behind a computer. Navigating these interactions can be daunting. Limiting political communication by taking advantage of privacy and preference settings on Facebook can affect exposure to political discussion. Facebook allows users to choose the amount of exposure to specific topics, news feeds, and other users’ posts.

The blocking or hiding of posts that individuals wish to avoid on Facebook creates the possibilities of creating an echo chamber of only like-minded, selected information (Hayes, et al., 2015). “The flow of information on Facebook is structured by how individuals are connected in the network” (Bakshy, Messing, & Adamic, 2015, p. 1130). Democracy lies in the ability to be exposed to differing views. Limiting broad exposure to differing political views may hinder the understanding of these topics fully.

Algorithmic Programming’s news feed-ranking algorithms sort through and determine the types of articles and advertisements that are automatically displayed on an individual’s Facebook page. This technology recognizes the online patterns and habits of individuals and uses the gathered information to further expose the user to similar topics (Bakshy, et al., 2015). Facebook has the capability of determining a user’s political leaning by collecting data based on onsite activity.

The more a user engages in discussion, the more data Facebook gathers to determine if a user is liberal, moderate, or conservative. “Advertisers, including many political campaigns, pay Facebook to show their ads to specific demographic groups. The labels Facebook assigns to its users help campaigns more precisely target a particular audience” (Merrill, para. 10, 2016). Exposure to cross-cutting content due to algorithmic programming means Facebook users are less likely to encounter news content and civic information that supports opposing views.

Updates from friends, family, brands, and celebrities help in sorting users into categories. Political behavior is greatly influenced by the online presence of political information, and this limitation in cross-cutting content shapes the way individuals engage in political discussions (Bene, 2017). With this algorithmic logic, Facebook users are better supported in their personal claims and ideologies, but lack the opportunity to examine ideology-challenging views.

Facebook users are viewed “less as a partner than a context – a self-contained marketplace to which you have been granted access but which functions according to rules and incentives that you cannot control” (Johnson, 2017, p. 149). A study by Halberstam and Knight (2016) found that those with more social media connections were exposed to more news and civic information, yet evidence pointed to a disproportionate exposure to cross-cutting content.

Those who identify as politically conservative obtain their information from others who identify as conservative. Those who identify as liberal connect with others of the same political affiliation. This finding provides evidence of the increasing concern regarding political polarization and homophily amongst both sides of the ideological political spectrum (Halberstam & Knight, 2016). Images, memes, and headlines help establish an online persona, which is defined by what an individual user shares with the public.

The dissemination of images, memes, and clickbait headlines is an uncomplicated method to circulate personal political views. Facebook users often share these rapidly from user to user, seemingly without the trouble of fact-checking. A study by Goodnow found that both promotional and candid images of political figures can be used to promote or denote political viewpoints. These visually biased images are shared from user to user, and the context of the images generates specific meanings for the particular audience (Goodnow, 2013). “It is the interpretation by an audience ascribes certain connotations…” (du Preez & Lombard, 2014, p. 266).

Peer’s political posts can influence political behavior (avoidance and engagement). An online identity can be manipulated in any way a user sees fit by emphasizing and falsifying certain aspects of themselves – a sort of self-branding. Those who engage in political discussions can do so through these filters. Depending on the context, these tools can be used to express political views without engaging in direct conversation or debate about the topic being communicated. The challenge is to do so without misinterpretation (du Preez & Lombard, 2014).

Factors influencing political behavior include both negative and positive associations. Communication on Facebook is a form of self-expression and public self-identity. Political expression is becoming more dominant on Facebook. Images, memes, and clickbait headlines can assist in establishing this persona.

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay
Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

Homophily in Facebook Political Discussion. (2020, Feb 15). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/homophily-in-facebook-political-discussion/