C1 – Social Media, News Platforms, and Partisan Exposure: Voters’ Media Preferences During the 2016 Presidential Campaign Season
Citation: Beam, M. A., Haridakis, P. M., Hutchens, M. J., & Hmielowski, J. (2017). Social Media, News Platforms, and Partisan Exposure: Voters’ Media Preferences During the 2016 Presidential Campaign Season. In D. Schill & J. Hendricks & (Eds.), The Presidency and Social Media: Discourse, Disruption, and Digital Democracy in the 2016 Presidential Election (pp. 37-55). New York: Routledge.
In this chapter, we examine the extent to which Facebook and Twitter are used in comparison to local news, interpersonal discussion, online aggregators and online search tools during the 2016 US Presidential election. We examine whether use of these various sources differ based on demographic and partisan differences which were frequently used to describe blocks of voters, including ethnicity, age, gender, income, religiosity, and partisanship. We also examine the extent to which consuming partisan and non-partisan news sources was facilitated by using online news sources and whether or not there were differential rates of exposure based on partisanship.
Examining use of news sources during the 2016 election revealed that there were minimal differences in use based on demographic categorizations frequently associated with access inequalities. Traditional sources of news such as local news and interpersonal discussion were utilized much more frequently than social media sources, with online search and news aggregators falling in the middle. Examining exposure to partisan vs. non-partisan news content revealed that Republicans were more likely to utilize conservative content, whereas non-partisan content was the most frequently used source for all other participants. Heavy SNS use was associated with increased exposure to all types of content.