Ideological Segregation Online and Offline

Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Internet, Media and Content and Net Neutrality

Article Snapshot


Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro


The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 126, No. 4, pp. 1799-1839, 2011


Measures the degree of ideological segregation in the market for online news and compares this to other news sources.

Policy Relevance

Guaranteeing exposure to information from diverse viewpoints has been a central goal of media policy in the United States and around the world, including recently proposed net neutrality legislation.

Main Points

  • The ideological segregation of online news—the degree to which liberals and conservatives are isolated from each other’s opinions-- is low in absolute terms.
  • The segregation of online news is higher than broadcast television news, cable television news, magazines, and local newspapers.
  • The segregation of online news is lower than national newspapers.
  • The segregation of online news is higher than a social network where individuals match randomly within counties, and lower than a network where they match randomly within ZIP codes.
  • Segregation of online news is significantly lower than in networks which people form such as work neighborhoods family), trusted friends, and political discussants.
  • There is no evidence from data since 2004 that the Internet is becoming more ideologically segregated over time.

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