The internet and political polarization

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Science  20 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6361, pp. 317-318
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6361.317-g

Many commentators have discussed the increase in political polarization in the United States and have blamed it on the internet and social media. Boxell et al. used data from the American National Election Studies and the Pew Research Center to look at demographic changes in polarization between 1996 and 2016. Unsurprisingly, younger people adopted the internet and social media much faster than the elderly. However, by several measures, those older than 65 increased more in polarization between 1996 and 2016 than those aged 18 to 39. Thus, for reasons still not fully understood, the people who tend to use internet and social media the least have undergone the highest increase in polarization.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1706588114 (2017).

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