BELIEVING BOTS

In October 2017, the Duke Polarization Lab set out to test an idea... 

 

Does the status quo strategy to nudge polarized people into engagement moderate them?

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We recruited a representative sample of approximately 1,200 Republicans and Democrats who visit Twitter regularly to complete a survey about their political views.

One week later, we offered to pay half of them to follow a bot we created that retweeted 24 messages each day from an opinion leader from the opposing political party.

Unfortunately, when we measured the study participants’ political views one month later, we discovered that our intervention did not decrease political polarization...

 

...Instead, it made it worse.

 

Democrats who followed our Republican bot became slightly more liberal and Republicans who followed our Democratic bot became substantially more conservative. 

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