How Online Media Polarizes and Encourages Voters

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Online politics and social media are being blamed for a lot lately, from the spread of misinformation to the rise of incivility. But we also want online media to reach young people and increase participation. Although early studies showed limited effects, the latest efforts show the online world is impacting the offline. Jamie Settle finds that Facebook increases our negative views of the other party--not because we talk a lot about politics, but because we think lots of social media posts reveal our friends’ politics and come to see them as caricatures. Katherine Haenschen finds that online banner and video ads can encourage young people to vote in local elections, perhaps reaching new voters. Online media has benefits and risks for our politics. Studies: “Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America” and “Mobilizing Millennial Voters with Targeted Internet Advertisements.” Interviews: Jamie Settle, William and Mary; Katherine Haenschen, Virginia Tech

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