People increasingly turn to social networks for news and information. This has led to questions about whether this creates filter bubbles where people only see information from like-minded individuals, and whether algorithms used to rank search results and social media posts contribute to this.

Our latest research, released today in Science, quantifies for the first time exactly how much ideologically diverse news and information individuals are exposed to in social media.

We found that most people have friends who claim an opposing political ideology, and that the content in peoples’ News Feeds reflect those diverse views.

News Feed surfaces content that is slightly more aligned with an individual’s own ideology, however the friends you choose and the content you click on are more important factors than News Feed ranking in terms of how much content you encounter that cuts across ideological lines.

Specifically, we find that among those who self-report a liberal or conservative affiliation:

  • On average 23% of people’s friends claim an opposing political ideology
  • Of the hard news content that people’s friends share, 29.5% of it cuts across ideological lines
  • When it comes to what people see in News Feed, 28.9% of the hard news encountered cuts across ideological lines, on average
  • 24.9% of the hard news content that people actually clicked on cuts across ideological lines

Read more about our research and findings on our Data Science blog