First Monday

First Monday is one of the first openly accessible, peer–reviewed journals solely devoted to research about the Internet. First Monday has published 1,857 papers in 277 issues, written by 2,582 different authors, over the past 23 years. No subscription fees no submission fees, no advertisements, no fundraisers, no walls.

This month: June 2019
Testing popular news discourse on the “echo chamber” effect: Does political polarisation occur among those relying on social media as their primary politics news source?
Since 2016, online social networks (OSNs), especially their “big data” algorithms, have been intensively blamed in popular news discourse for acting as echo chambers. These chambers entrap like-minded voters in closed ideological circles that cause serious damage to democratic processes. This study examines this “echo chamber” argument through the rather divisive case of EU politics among EU citizens. Based on an exploratory secondary analysis of the Eurobarometer 86.2 survey dataset, we investigate whether the reliance on OSNs as a primary EU political news source can lead people to more polarisation in EU-related political beliefs and attitudes than a reliance on traditional media. We found little evidence for this polarisation, lending credence to a rejection of social media’s “echo chamber” effect.
Also this month
Alt-right pipeline: Individual journeys to extremism online
The rise of the alt-right as a potent and sometimes violent political force has been well documented. Yet the journey of an individual towards upholding these ideologies is less well understood. Alt-righters are not instantly converted, but rather incrementally nudged along a particular medial pathway. Drawing on video testimonies, chat logs, and other studies, this paper explores the interaction between this alt-right “pipeline” and the psyche of a user. It suggests three overlapping cognitive phases that occur within this journey: normalization, acclimation, and dehumanization. Finally, the article examines the individual who has reached the end of this journey, an extremist who nevertheless remains largely unregistered within traditional terrorist classifications.



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