Existing studies on ideological selective exposure have several limitations, state Tetsuro Kobayashi of City University Hong Kong, Yuki Ogawa of Ritsumeikan University, Takahisa Suzuki of Tsuda University, and Hitoshi Yamamoto of Rissho University. The authors examined selective exposure and news audience fragmentation in the Japanese Twittersphere.
Researchers tested the generalizability of US findings in the Japanese context. They did a survey and combined this with social media data to find out the political ideologies of Twitter users. Authors focused on Twitter accounts that follow at least one media account and one member of the Japanese Diet, resulting in 600 000 user accounts.
Among major Japanese media accounts, no ideological audience fragmentation was observed. Most media accounts are followed by both liberal and conservative users. Followers of major media accounts overlap to a great extent. Fragmentation was found only among a few media accounts that have small number of ideologically distinctive followers.
Methodologically, combining survey data and machine learning is capable of predicting Twitter users’ ideology more precisely than previous methods that rely solely on social media data.
The US findings on ideological audience fragmentation are not necessarily replicated in Asian contexts, the researchers conclude.
The article “News audience fragmentation in the Japanese Twittersphere” was published in Asian Journal of Communication and is available on the publisher’s website (abstract free).
Picture: Walk walk walk by Ryoji Iwata, license CC0 1.0