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Personalization, Politics and Policy: Cross-National Perspectives

Sat, May 26, 8:00 to 9:15, Hilton Prague, M, Yoga Room (Cybex Health Club)

Session Submission Type: Panel

Abstract

This panel considers the effect of personalization algorithms on political communication. Personalization algorithms have been suspected of creating filter bubbles or echo chambers that distort communication in ways that undermine democracy. This panel argues that answers to this question have often been based on deterministic perspectives on technology and overly simplistic models of democratic processes, as well as limited empirical research.

Based on data from the Quello Search Project, which surveyed six European nations and the United States, this panel takes a broad perspective. We examine the role of online and offline media as well as social media in political opinion formation. In this diverse media environment we find that most people rely on many different sources for political information and they frequently encounter contradictory opinions. Few people are caught in echo chambers. People are aware of multiple voices and they take them into account. This fits well with the conference theme of voices.

Personalization is new and public media policy has not been formulated with it in mind. Certain policy changes may be needed to help the small number of people who find themselves in an echo chamber. Changes are also needed to improve the transparency of information sources.

This panel is a needed opportunity to critically consider the political role and impact of personalization by considering the diverse media landscape. It seeks to inform and stimulate discussion of ways in which research findings on personalization, search, echo chambers, fake news and related issues can and should shape policy and practice.

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