Ideological Polarization on Social Media

Date: 20 November 2023

Time: 3:10PM

Venue: Informatics 1.15 / Zoom

Authors/Speakers: Marilena Hohmann (Speaker), Karel Devriendt, Michele Coscia

Abstract/Information: Despite a multitude of studies of polarization on social media, it remains disputed whether polarization in digital public spaces is on the rise. To analyze ideological polarization – increased ideological divergence and reduced dialogue among individuals with differing views – in social media networks, a suitable measure is needed. We argue that this measure should account for three defining factors of ideological polarization: how extreme people’s opinions are (opinion component), how much they organize into echo chambers (structural component), and how these echo chambers organize in the network (opinion-structural interplay). Since current polarization estimates are insensitive to at least one of these factors, we propose a new measure of ideological polarization in social networks that can capture all the factors listed. In synthetic experiments, we demonstrate our measure’s sensitivity to both components of ideological polarization and their interplay. Subsequently, we apply the measure to real-world data, examining political debates on Twitter and voting patterns in the US House of Representatives.

About the Speaker: Marilena Hohmann is a second-year PhD student in Social Data Science at the University of Copenhagen. Her interdisciplinary PhD project explores how people are connected through their opinions, beliefs, and ideas, for instance, in politically polarized discussions. Before starting the PhD, she obtained an MSc in Social Data Science (University of Copenhagen) and a BA in Media and Communication Studies (Freie Universität Berlin). More information about her work is available at

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