The rise of mobile phones and tablets has popularized the practice of second screening, which means accessing extra content online or even simply tweeting while watching a television show. It is a great way for fans to build relationships with each other and their favorite television shows.
It should be no surprise, then, that the 2016 presidential election was a bonanza for second screeners because debate watchers could instantly share their feelings on social media.
Researchers Tsahi Hayat and Tal Samuel-Azran wanted to examine the conversations of second screeners during this turbulent time. They looked at the Twitter conversations of people who were second screening The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. The researchers wanted to know if second screeners were trapping themselves in an echo chamber and refusing to look at opinions that were different from their own.
The researchers compiled a list of every follower of the Twitter accounts of The O’Reilly Factor, The Rachel Maddow Show and Anderson 360. They also collected every tweet that mentioned these shows while they were being broadcast. Finally, they compiled a list of the Twitter accounts of every member of the United States Congress. They checked to see if the people who tweeted during one of the three shows followed one or more congressional Twitter accounts.
After analyzing the data, the researchers proved their hypothesis: The second screeners were avoiding any other political opinion. The second screeners of The O’Reilly Factor look only for the conservative viewpoint. The second screeners of The Rachel Maddow Show and Anderson Cooper 360 are liberal and look only for the liberal view.
“Thus, although second screeners are, by definition, active seekers of information about the television contents they consume, their heightened interest and participation in related social networks (as posters or followers) does not translate into democratically healthier political exchanges, and instead strengthen echo chambers.”
To read the full text of this study: http://bit.ly/2xvkKrG
Hayat, T., & Samuel-Azran, T. (2017). “You too, Second Screeners?” Second Screeners’ Echo Chambers During the 2016 U.S. Elections Primaries. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(2), 291-308