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(How) do participants in online discussion forums create ‘echo chambers’?

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Abstract

This chapter examines the proposition advanced by Sunstein (2001) and other scholars that political online forums tend to be characterized by in-group homogeneity and group polarization. The chapter adopts a process view of online forums and examines discussions within a time perspective. Five discussion lines on <i>Climategate.nl </i>(a skeptical Dutch online forum on climate change) are investigated. The research focuses on how participants react to the participation of dissidents and on the resulting processes of inclusion and exclusion. <i>Climategate.nl</i> moved in the direction of an &#8216;echo chamber&#8217; gradually over time. Nevertheless, the forum was never completely homogeneous. The editors played an active role in the inclusion and exclusion of dissidents. A counter-steering moderation policy is needed to keep group polarization and homogenization within certain limits.

References

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