The Electoral Consequences of Facebook Use in the United States
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CitationLi, Lucy. 2021. The Electoral Consequences of Facebook Use in the United States. Bachelor's thesis, Harvard College.
AbstractIn recent years, social media has become inextricably linked with American politics. As these new media sources have grown in popularity over the past few decades, politicians on both sides of the aisle have often accused platforms like Facebook of favoring their opponents. Despite the intensity of popular debate on the subject, empirical work on Facebook's impact on politics has proven to be challenging due to the difficulty of identifying a causal relationship. In this paper, I take advantage of exogenous variation in the early spread of Facebook at elite private universities to produce the first causal, non-experimental estimates of the effect of Facebook use on voting, political ideology, and political participation in the United States. I find that Facebook use increased turnout and the Democratic vote share between the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections, led to a decline in moderate political ideologies, and increased the number of individual donations to Congressional campaigns. These findings indicate that Facebook use has caused a leftward and perhaps polarized shift in Americans' political opinions, providing new insight into the important relationship between social media and American elections.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368551
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