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Search&politics lisbon-2018

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Presentation on fake news, filter bubbles, and echo chambers for representatives of media and regulatory agencies at Palace Foz (Lisbon), 9 April 2018, by Bill Dutton.

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Search&politics lisbon-2018

  1. 1. Fake News, Echo Chambers, and Filter Bubbles William H. Dutton @BiIIDutton Quello Professor of Media and Information Policy Quello Center, Michigan State University @QuelloCenter Presentation for a discussion in Lisbon, 2018.
  2. 2. Panic! Fake News Filter Bubbles Echo Chambers Immediatefuture.co.uk Medium.com
  3. 3. The Part Played by Search in Shaping Political Opinion • Quello Center team in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford and Department of Communication, University of Ottawa • Professor William H. Dutton (Quello) • Dr. Bianca C. Reisdorf (Quello) • Dr. Grant Blank (OII) • Dr. Elizabeth Dubois (Ottawa) • With the assistance of: • Craig Robertson (PhD Student, Quello) • Sabrina Ahmed (BA Student, Ottawa) • Support from Google, with thanks to Jon Steinberg
  4. 4. Centrality of Information to Democratic Processes Mass Media •News, Radio, Television, and the Fourth Estate The Internet and Search •Search Engines, Algorithms, Social Media, User Choice, and a Fifth Estate
  5. 5. The Role of the Internet, Search and Social Media? Enable citizens to make well considered political decisions? Distort the information citizens gain access to and choose in politics?
  6. 6. Technological Determinism • More Informed Rational Citizens, Voters • Social Media Movements, Surges • Filter Bubbles • Fake News in Powerful Media Effects Social Determinism • Spiral of Silence • Power Law • Echo Chambers Social and Technical Shaping of Democratic Processes • Agenda Setting • Cue Taking and Giving (“group think”) - Two-Step Flow • Werther Effects • Fifth Estate (enabled by search and social media) Multiple Theoretical Perspectives
  7. 7. Cross-National Comparative Research A User-Centered Perspective Review of Literature Trace Data Survey of 7 nations Britain France Germany Italy Poland Spain United States 14,000 Internet Users, January 2017
  8. 8. General Findings National Comparisons: 5 Themes Individual Differences
  9. 9. 1. The Centrality of Search Finding Information in Mountain of WWW Becoming the first place people go for information One of the most common uses of the Internet With politics a limited, specialized topic of search
  10. 10. Frequency of Using a Search Engine France Germany Italy Poland Spain UK US Total Never 1.4 0.14 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.5 1.1 0.54 Less than monthly 1.4 2.02 0.8 0.1 0.6 2.5 3 1.5 Monthly 1.8 2.4 0.8 0.2 1.4 2.4 2.4 1.62 Weekly 12.1 17.5 6.9 2.7 6.5 14.2 11.3 10.1 Daily 22.5 28.9 19.3 21.8 19.8 24.3 20 22.4 Greater than once per day 60.9 49.0 72.1 75 71.4 56.2 62.3 63.85 Total N 1,972 1,972 1,979 1,992 1,989 1,961 1,995 13,859 Total percent 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
  11. 11. The Purpose of Search 3.19 3.19 3.22 3.44 3.57 3.66 3.87 3.97 0 1 2 3 4 Mean results out of 5 Find entertaining content Politics and current events Medical or health questions Check accuracy of news,info Look up news on topic, event Look up fact(s) Navigation to sites Info about particular topic 0=never; 4=very often
  12. 12. Politics in the World of Search: Google Trends in Search: 2010 to 2016 0 2 4 6 8 10 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Year Political Possibly political Not political The top ten most commonly searched general terms, news/events, and people for the years 2010 to 2016 were collected and analyzed using data retrieved from Google’s annual “Zeitgeist” and Year in Review features.
  13. 13. The Reliability of Search: A Learned Level of Trust As reliable as other major sources, such as TV Users in Poland, Italy, and Spain more trusting Users in Germany, France, and Britain less trusting One of first places to go for information about politics
  14. 14. Reliability of Different Sources 2.69 3.35 3.41 3.41 3.47 3.49 3.52 0 1 2 3 4 Mean results out of 5 Social media Television Newspapers Online news Family, friends, colleagues Radio Search engine results 0=not reliable at all; 4=totally reliable
  15. 15. Reliability of Search Engine Results France Germany Italy Poland Spain UK US Total 1 Total unreliable 2.6 2.6 1.7 0.7 0.7 1.5 1.1 1.5 2 7.9 8.3 5.6 6.1 7.5 6.9 5.7 6.8 3 39.9 44.8 37 36.6 36.9 40.7 39 39.2 4 40.7 38.1 46.9 46.8 44.8 42.6 42.8 43.3 5 Total reliable 9 6.3 8.9 9.8 10.1 8.3 11.4 9.1 Total N 1,910 1,920 1,938 1,958 1,966 1,895 1,950 13,537 Total percent 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
  16. 16. Importance of Online Search to Voting France Germany Italy Poland Spain UK US Total Not important 41.7 34.5 27.4 21.1 33.3 40.5 21 31.7 Important 58.3 65.5 72.6 78.9 66.7 59.5 79 68.3 Total N 1,496 1,486 1,666 1,129 1,617 1,559 1,568 10,520 Total percent 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
  17. 17. 2. The Diversity of Sources Those interested in politics look at multiple (4.5) sources of information More than two (2.4) offline, and more than two (2.1) online Search engines: most frequent online source
  18. 18. Multiple Sources of Information about Politics 1.53 1.82 2.13 2.24 2.31 2.50 2.51 N ever Som etim es O ften Very often Mean results out of 4 Charities, religious groups Political websites Radio Print news Family & friends Online sources TV
  19. 19. Online Sources of Information about Politics 2.36 2.52 2.54 2.88 3.02 3.07 3.49 N ever R arely Som etim es O ften Very often Mean results out of 5 Political website Email Online video platforms Social media Online sites of news & mags Online news sites Search engines
  20. 20. Diversity of Views Encountered Online 36 percent of sample read news they disagree with ‘often’ or ‘very often'’ Diversity of Views Among People Communicated with Online (Table 4.25) • 15%: Views Different from you • 65%: Mixed Beliefs • 20%: Same as you
  21. 21. 3. Users Check, Confirm, Information Multiple approaches to confirming information Over 80 percent use search to check facts Three fourths (74%) use search to check information on social media In Spain: 60% of Internet users search to check facts ‘often/very often’; 70% say daily or several times a day
  22. 22. Practices Tied to Confirming a Story 2.70 2.87 2.92 3.08 3.15 3.16 N ever R arely Som etim es O ften Very often Mean results out of 5 Look for opinion of trusted source Ask friend or family to confirm Check different news sources Check major offline news Confirm by searching online Read something disagree with
  23. 23. 4. Finding Information Unexpected, New, and Wrong 76 percent occasionally or often find information they were not looking for (serendipity) through search 48 percent ‘often’ learn something new – serendipity Many recognize ‘wrong’ information Occasionally change their opinion on issues
  24. 24. Relative Prevalence of Practices 1.27 1.68 2.13 2.35 0 .5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Mean results out of 5 Changed opinion on political issue Find wrong information Discovered important information Learn something new 0=never; 3=often
  25. 25. 5. Rarely Block or Un-friend 20 percent have unfriended or blocked someone who posted because of differing political views or offensive content 12 percent block or unfriended a person who disagreed with political content they posted 15 percent posted content they worried would offend friends or people they follow
  26. 26. Mitigating Problems 1. Centrality of Search for Info about Politics 2. Diversity of Sources/Viewpoints 3. Check, Confirm, Information 4. Find Info that is New, Unexpected, or Wrong 5. Seldom Block, Unfriend, Censor Others KEY THEMES
  27. 27. • Google Studie • Forschungsfragen • Methodologie • Erste Resultate • Bedeutung • Diskussion Individual Differences in Search
  28. 28. Factors Shaping Good Internet & Search Practices in the Political Arena Political • Interest in Politics • Online political participation Internet • Skills • Levels of Internet Use • Mobile, Next Generation Users Information • Diversity of Sources • Learned Level of Trust
  29. 29. Operationalizing those ‘Vulnerable’ Interest in Politics: ‘Not at all’ v. ‘Somewhat Interested, Interested, Very Interested’ Skill: Ability to use a search engine: ‘Bad, Fair, or Poor’ v ‘Good or Excellent’ IF: Not at all interested in politics AND Bad/Fair/Poor ability THEN rated VULNERABLE
  30. 30. Percent Vulnerable (No Interest, Low Skill) 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 US France Poland Britain Spain Germany Italy Vulnerables Vulnerable Vulnerable compose from 1-4% of Internet Users
  31. 31. The Vulnerables? The ‘vulnerables’ tend to be somewhat: • Older, less educated, no children in home, retired, unemployed, female • Lower income, some disability However, ‘vulnerables’ scattered across all categories • Difficult to target by demographics • Socially identify, alert to problems, and nudge to develop interests and skills
  32. 32. Nudging Internet Users* Encourage an interest in politics; make it interesting Don’t undermine trust by demonizing the Internet Recommend consulting multiple sources, on- and off-line Identify good online practices, such as • Use the Internet and search • Value diversity of views on social networks • Check questionable news & facts (use search) *Nudge theory associated with Richard Thaler’s 2017 Nobel Prize .
  33. 33. Key Issues Moving Forward Theoretical Perspectives • Be sceptical of deterministic perspectives • Don’t underestimate users & social shaping of search Interest in Politics • Are those least interested & involved more vulnerable? Skills in Search and Internet • Are those offline or least skilled at greater risk? Digital Media Literacy or Best to Nudge All Users? • Nudge individuals – users – to reduce risks (Richard Thaler) • Avoid inappropriate regulation of content: don’t panic! • You are the key algorithm
  34. 34. The Report Plus Dutton, W.H., Reisdorf, B.C., Dubois, E., and Blank, G. (2017), Search and Politics: The Uses and Impacts of Search in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United States, Quello Center Working Paper available on SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2960697 Dutton, W.H. (2017), ‘Fake News, Echo Chambers, and Filter Bubbles: Underresearched and Overhyped’: https://theconversation.com/fake- news-echo-chambers-and-filter-bubbles-underresearched-and-overhyped-76688 Dutton, W. H. (2017), ‘Bubblebusters’, NESTA. http://readie.eu/bubblebusters- countering-fake-news-filter-bubbles-and-echo-chambers/

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