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Selective avoidance on social media: a comparative study of Western democracies

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social media, selective avoidance, unfriending, context relapse

Abstract (summary)

This study examines the phenomena of political unfriending and content removal on social media in three Western democracies—France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We seek to understand the role of crosscutting discussion, confrontational discussion style, and ideological extremity in triggering unfriending and content removal on social media, while shedding light on cross-country differences. The findings show that selective avoidance behaviors are much more common in the United States than either in France or the United Kingdom. They also show that crosscutting discussion and confrontational style are the predictors of selective avoidance across all the above countries, while ideological extremity plays a role in the United States only. We suggest that while social media provide opportunities for citizens to engage in discussions with people with dissimilar political views and socioeconomic backgrounds, they also allow them to easily reestablish more homophilous environments via content removal and tie dissolution.

Publication Information

Skoric, M., Zhu, Q., Koc-Michalska, K., Boulianne, S., & Bimber, B. (2021). Selective avoidance on social media: A comparative study of Western democracies. Social Science Computer Review,1-18. doi:10.1177/08944393211005468


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