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Political Polarisation Trends on Finnish Twitter 2015-2023

Core Concepts
The author explores political polarisation trends on Finnish social media, focusing on immigration, climate change, COVID-19, and security policy topics. The study reveals increasing polarisation between ideological groups and the selective sharing of news links reinforcing partisan opinions.
The study analyzes political polarisation trends on Finnish social media from 2015 to 2023. It identifies three ideological groups - Conservative Right, Liberal Left, and Moderate Right - clustering based on retweeting behavior related to political parties. The analysis shows an upward trend in polarisation under various topics, especially during the Marin government. Users selectively share news links that align with their partisan views, with the Conservative Right standing out for sharing fringe media outlets known for disinformation. Negative sentiments are prevalent in tweets shared by the Conservative Right group, contributing to increased virality. The research delves into how users from different ideological leanings interact with news articles on immigration, climate change, COVID-19, and security policy. It highlights the alignment of sentiment with ideological groups and the impact of virality on shared news links. The study also uncovers patterns of negative sentiment among conservative-right users when sharing immigration-related news.
Immigration: 167 retweets by Conservative Right during Sipilä government. Climate: 458 retweets by Liberal Left during Marin government. Coronavirus: 1,089 retweets by Conservative Right during Marin government. Security: 936 retweets by Moderate Right during Sipilä government. Inequality: 37 retweets by Conservative Right during Marin government.
"Users selectively share news links that reinforce rather than challenge their pre-existing partisan opinions." "The Conservative Right exhibits a 'negativity bias' where negative sentiment tweets gain considerable traction within the group."

Key Insights Distilled From

by Antt... at 03-07-2024
Political polarisation in turbulent times

Deeper Inquiries

How does social media contribute to echo chambers in political discourse?

Social media contributes to echo chambers in political discourse by creating environments where individuals are exposed primarily to information and opinions that align with their existing beliefs. This phenomenon occurs due to algorithms that prioritize content based on user preferences, leading users to interact more with like-minded individuals and sources. As a result, users may be less likely to encounter diverse perspectives or challenging viewpoints, reinforcing their own biases and beliefs. Echo chambers can further polarize society by deepening ideological divides and reducing opportunities for constructive dialogue.

Is there a risk of misinformation spreading through selective sharing of news links?

Yes, there is a significant risk of misinformation spreading through the selective sharing of news links on social media. When users selectively share news articles that align with their pre-existing beliefs or ideologies, they may inadvertently amplify false or misleading information that supports their viewpoint. This behavior can create an echo chamber effect where misinformation circulates within closed networks without being critically evaluated or fact-checked. Misinformation shared within ideologically aligned groups can quickly gain traction and influence public opinion, potentially leading to widespread acceptance of inaccurate information.

How can understanding online polarisation help bridge societal divides?

Understanding online polarisation is crucial for bridging societal divides as it provides insights into the factors driving polarization and the dynamics shaping group interactions in digital spaces. By analyzing patterns of interaction between different ideological groups on social media platforms, researchers and policymakers can identify strategies to promote cross-cutting conversations, foster empathy across diverse perspectives, and mitigate the negative impacts of polarization on democratic discourse. Additionally, awareness of online polarisation enables stakeholders to develop targeted interventions such as promoting media literacy education, encouraging civil dialogue practices, diversifying information sources available online, and designing platform features that facilitate exposure to diverse viewpoints. By addressing the root causes of polarisation in digital spaces proactively informed by research findings on online behaviour patterns related to ideology-driven interactions helps build bridges between communities divided along ideological lines.