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Benefits of Diverse News Recommendations for Democracy: A User Study


Heitz, Lucien; Lischka, Juliane A; Birrer, Alena; Paudel, Bibek; Tolmeijer, Suzanne; Laugwitz, Laura; Bernstein, Abraham (2022). Benefits of Diverse News Recommendations for Democracy: A User Study. Digital Journalism, 10(10):1710-1730.

Abstract

News recommender systems provide a technological architecture that helps shaping public discourse. Following a normative approach to news recommender system design, we test utility and external effects of a diversity-aware news recommender algorithm. In an experimental study using a custom-built news app, we show that diversity-optimized recommendations (1) perform similar to methods optimizing for user preferences regarding user utility, (2) that diverse news recommendations are related to a higher tolerance for opposing views, especially for politically conservative users, and (3) that diverse news recommender systems may nudge users towards preferring news with differing or even opposing views. We conclude that diverse news recommendations can have a depolarizing capacity for democratic societies.

Abstract

News recommender systems provide a technological architecture that helps shaping public discourse. Following a normative approach to news recommender system design, we test utility and external effects of a diversity-aware news recommender algorithm. In an experimental study using a custom-built news app, we show that diversity-optimized recommendations (1) perform similar to methods optimizing for user preferences regarding user utility, (2) that diverse news recommendations are related to a higher tolerance for opposing views, especially for politically conservative users, and (3) that diverse news recommender systems may nudge users towards preferring news with differing or even opposing views. We conclude that diverse news recommendations can have a depolarizing capacity for democratic societies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
070 News media, journalism & publishing
Uncontrolled Keywords:Algorithmic curation, ethics, journalism, political polarization, public sphere, recommender systems, user preferences
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:26 November 2022
Deposited On:18 Mar 2022 07:02
Last Modified:28 Mar 2024 02:36
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:2167-0811
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2021.2021804
Official URL:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2021.2021804
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:22084
Project Information:
  • : FunderUZH Digital Society Initiative under a Grant of the DSI Excellence Program
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderHasler Foundation under a Grant on Political News Diversity
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)