Seminar on “Echo-Chambers” at the Catalan Association of Journalists

Invited by the Catalan Associación of Journalists, based in Barcelona, I sat in a round table to talk about the prevalence of echo-chambers in the online domain. The discussion brough together journalists and academics who debated about the prevalence and severity of news cosumption patterns that conform our world view. I shed light on some of the overstated claims around the role of technologies in facilitating segmented news consumption. A recording of the round table can be accessed in the link below (in Catalan):

Access here to the video of the round table on echo-chambers


Photo credit: Museum Victoria / Unsplash and

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New Paper on PNAS: “Exposure to News Grows less Fragmented with Increase in Mobile Access”

We have published a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) where we show that mobile access to news has widened news diets and that ideological self-selection explains only a small percentage of co-exposure to news. Our newly published study resorts to an unprecedented combination of data from the US during a 5 years time window. We invested 3 years of work to understand patterns of news consumption on computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

This study has been only possible thanks to the extraordinary team work with colleages Tian Yang and professors Rasmus K. Nielsen and Sandra González-Bailón from the University of Oxford and University of Pennsylvania.

We show that exposure to news through desktop computers results in people reading from a narrower set of sources over time. But when we take into account the full range of devices on which people access news, including mobiles and tables, this picture change. People consuming news in the US encounter a much wider range of news sources and their news diets is partially explained by their ideology. On average, partisanship of news audience only counts for 16% of the variation of US news media diets.

Our paper can be accessed here

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Presentation of the Spanish Democracy Report by Fundación Alternativas

The Spanish Democracy Report (Informe sobre la Democracia en España) by Fundación Alternativas was launched 19 of October in Madrid. The document features a chapter by professor Sandra González-Bailón, University of Pennsylvania and myself including an analysis on modes of exposure to news information online (our chapter can be accessed here).

During the presentation of the report, I had the oportunity to talk about the news consumption patterns that characterize Spanish citizens’ behaviour on the web in 2019 and the main impacts of information technologies on the distribution of news. Alberto Penadés, director of the report, Sandra Leon, senior researcher at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Pablo Simón, professor at the UC3M and the journalist Joaquín Estafanía also took part in the presentation and discussed the main challenges ahead for the Spanish Democracy. Overall, it was a highly interesting debate that can be accessed here.


Round table to present The Spanish Democracy Report 2019 (link to video in Spanish)

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At the #IJPP20 Conference talking about Political Fragmentation Online

The videos of the panels of the The International Journal of Press/Politics annual conference are available on Youtube. They feature a range of interesting presentations from colleagues from 36 different countries. Here, I presented our work on political fragmentation on social media using a Structural Topic Model approach. This is the first outcome of a collaborative effort including my colleagues Raphael Heiberger (University of Bremen), Laia Castro (University of Zurich), Rasmus K. Nielsen (University of Oxford), Frank Esser (University of Zurich).

The #IJPP20 conference was held virtually for the first time and it was also the first congress of 2020 to present my research, after a long period of time including my maternity leave. It had something special, not just because it was held online but also, because it took place after a severe lockdown in many countries in Europe; and an uncertain summer, when Covid-related cases were increasing in many countries in the world, including the UK and Spain. My gratitute goes to all the organizers and the editor of the IJPP, Cristian Vaccari for an excellent planification of the virtual conference.

Watch the video of the presentation “Political Fragmentation in the Online Domain:
Evidence from a structural topic modelling approach”

Worcester Price for the best paper published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research

The World Association of Public Opinion Research awarded us the Robert M. Worcester Price for the best paper 2019. Our paper “Is Facebook Eroding the Public Agenda? Evidence from browsing tracking data” was considered the best manuscript published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research. The lead co-author, professor Ana S. Cardenal (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) delivered an acceptance speech during a virtual ceremony celebrated in October 202o, on behalf of Carol Galais (Universitat de Barcelona) and myself. We all thanked the jury for this recognition, which encouraged us to keep advancing our research agenda.

We competed against 39 outstanding papers also published in 2019. The jury valued our novel combination of survey and browsing tracking data to measure citizens news media diets and its effects over the public agenda. Moreover, they highlighted our contribution to advance in the measurement of the political fragmentation in the online domain, which remains still very elusive.

Our paper can be accessed here

Citation: Cardenal, A. S., Galais, C. Majó-Vázquez, S. (2018), Is Facebook eroding the public agenda? Evidence from survey and web-tracking data. International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Volume 31, Issue 4, Winter 2019, Pages 589–608,

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Fake News and Disinformation: Audiences, Public Opinion and Regulatory Frameworks

Among the range of interesting (virtual) seminars taking place last summer, I had the pleasure to join my colleages at Meso Argentina for the talk on “Noticias Falsas y Desinformación: Audiencias, Opinión Pública y Marclos Regulatorios” (Fake News and Disinformation: Audiences, Public Opinión and Regulatory Frameworks).

My presentation focused on the results of our study on the role of suspended accounts during major elections in Europe. This study sheds light on the moderation strategies of major social media platforms during electoral contests. The panel featured also Sarah Ganter from Simon Fraser University and Sebastián Valenzuela from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

The full video recording of my presentation and that of my colleagues is available at the Meso Argentina Youtube channel (Spanish only)


New Reuters Factsheet: Toxic Conversations on Twitter during the Covid-19 pandemic

In this RISJ Factsheet, we assess the volume and patterns of toxic conversations on social media during the Covid-19 pandemic. We specifically analyse worldwide conversations on Twitter targeting the World Health Organization (WHO), a central actor during the pandemic.

Download here the factsheet to read all the results.

Toxic messages amount to 21% of the overall conversation touching on the Covid-19 pandemic and the role of the WHO in the crisis. In other words, 21 out of 100 tweets in our sample are expected to convey a rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable comment. The percentage of toxic tweets increases after 26 March (25%), when many countries were facing the growing adverse effects of the pandemic and passing measures to confine their populations.

Our analysis contributes to the current research on the health of online debates amid the increasing role of social media as a critical entrance to information and mediator of public opinion building. The research team working on this study includes Professor Rasmus K. Nielsen, Dr Joan Verdú, Nandan Rao, Dr Manlio de Domenico and Dr Omiros Papaspiliopoulos.

#RISJWebinar on News Audience Behaviour in Electoral Years

We are rapidly approaching a new presidential election in the US. What does evidence tell us on how audiences navigate news during elections? Based on observed digital data, I presented the results of Reuters Institute studies on news audience behaviour during major political events like the elections in the US or more recently, the contested elections in India last year. Do audiences navigate the information ecosystem in a way that’s consistent with echo-chambers? How do digital-born media compare to legacy media in the provision of information during elections?

In the Reuters’ seminar, which took place on 4 June 2020, we looked at patterns of news navigation on the web and on social media, including Twitter and Facebook, drawing on digital traces that people leave behind when keeping up with current affairs. I also focused on comparing differences across countries and media systems.

You can whatch the full seminar on the Reuters’ Youtube chanel here.

The presentation included results from the latest elections in the US, India, UK, Spain and France. The figure below presents the electoral events that I focused on during the seminar. The slides of the presentation are available here.

Note: Own elaboration.