Political identification in the digital age has shifted online: increasingly, people define their political identity in how they come together around issues and news events on the social web.
We adopt online political identities in three major ways: through shared consumption of information on social media platforms; through participation in political movements through hashtags and around news events; or through performance of our political identity via virtue signaling on the Internet. From the alt-right to Bernie bros, online communities coalesce around news articles and other information that allows them to express their political affiliations through the content they read, react to, and share. And through this consumption of similar information, they form little political information universes often referred to as “media ecosystems.”1
These universes are segregated in the kind of information they consume due to the ways in which the social web is engineered. The Internet caters information to people in highly personalized ways and often delivers more of the same through algorithms rather than serendipitously. It is optimized for the virality of one-punch headlines, not stories with nuance. And this pushes political information universes further apart than they may otherwise naturally be.