How Partisan Crowds Affect News Evaluation

Authors Maurice Jakesch, Moran Koren, and Mor Naaman
Venue Proceedings of the ACM TTO, 2020

Social influence is ubiquitous in politics andonline social media. Here we explore howsocial signals from partisan crowds influencepeople’s evaluations of political news. For ex-ample, are liberals easily persuaded by a lib-eral crowd, while resisting the influence ofconservative crowds? We designed a large-scale online experiment (N=1,000) to test howpolitically-annotated social signals affect par-ticipants’ opinions. In times rife with misin-formation and polarization, our findings areoptimistic: the mechanism of social influenceworks across political lines, that is, liberalsare reliably influenced by majority-Republicancrowds and vice versa. At the same time, wereplicate findings showing that people are in-clined to discard news claims that are incon-sistent with their political views. Consideringthat people show negative reactions to politi-cally dissonant news but not to social signalsthat oppose their views, we point to the possi-bility of depolarizing social rating systems.