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Digital media and the proliferation of public opinion cues online: biases and vulnerabilities in the new attention economy

chapter
posted on 06.10.2021, 14:32 by Andy Ross, Andrew ChadwickAndrew Chadwick, Cristian VaccariCristian Vaccari
Perceptions of public opinion can influence attitudes and behaviour. Studies based on experiments show that when people encounter aggregate cues, such as opinion polls, and exemplar cues, such as ‘vox pop’ interviews, they gain a sense of public consensus about policy issues and political actors, even if the cues are not representative of public opinion. Social media have given rise to new public opinion cues, such as ‘likes,’ shares, and comments, and these have even weaker links with real public opinion. However, these new cues activate powerful social endorsement affordances and, as a result, may influence perceptions of public opinion. We trace the effects of these new cues in the hybrid media system and explain how they constrain professional journalism’s role as mediator of the public’s attitudes. Social media cues can influence audiences’ perceptions of news and politics. Journalists’ use of social media cues in their reporting can also influence audience perceptions of politics and of journalism itself. The production and circulation of cues can be skewed by disinformation campaigns based on orchestrated botnets and commenting sock puppets. Due to their influence, fabricated public opinion cues on social media can render social media users, news audiences, and journalists more vulnerable to manipulation and deception.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Communication and Media

Published in

The Routledge Companion to Political Journalism

Pages

241-251

Publisher

Routledge

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© selection and editorial matter, James Morrison, Jen Birks and Mike Berry; individual chapters, the contributors

Publisher statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Companion to Political Journalism on October 20, 2021, available online: http://www.routledge.com/9780367248222.

Acceptance date

14/01/2021

Publication date

2021-10-20

Copyright date

2022

ISBN

9780367248222; 9780429284571

Book series

Routledge Media and Cultural Studies Companions

Language

en

Editor(s)

James Morrison; Jen Birks; Mike Berry

Depositor

Prof Andrew Chadwick. Deposit date: 15 January 2021

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