Political Polarization and Social Media

Philosophical Topics 50 (2):85-104 (2022)
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Abstract

A popular claim is that social media is a cause of contemporary high levels of political polarization. In this paper, I consider three of the most common kinds of arguments for the thesis. One type lays out a narrative of causes, tracing the causal steps between logging on to social media and later becoming more polarized. Another type uses computer modeling to show how polarized effects can arise from systems that are analogous to use of social media. The final type considers straightforward experimental evidence for the polarizing effect. I reject each of these arguments and explain why they are unconvincing.

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