Skip to main content
No Access

Partisan Enclaves and Information Bazaars: Mapping Selective Exposure to Online News

Many now believe a segregated online news market has led to increased polarization in the United States. Indeed, experimental studies in political science and psychology show that partisans are more interested in reading attitude-reinforcing information. Yet, observational studies of web browsing behavior have thus far found limited differences between Democratic and Republican online news consumption. We present two new pieces of evidence showing how partisans selectively approach congenial news online. First, using a data set of web-browsing histories from the 2016 US general election (August–November 2016), we show that Democrats (Republicans) split their news consumption between left-leaning (right-leaning) sources and moderate/mainstream sources. Most partisan convergence occurs at portal sites—such as Yahoo and MSN—that specialize in nonnews and nonpolitical content. Second, using high-profile scandals from the 2016 election (Access Hollywood and the Comey letter), we show that partisans consume more news when an event benefits their preferred candidate.