Exploring Alternative Social Media Platforms ⇥ bugeyedandshameless.com
Although fewer than one-in-ten Americans say they use any of these sites for news, most who do say they have found a community of like-minded people there. And news consumers on the four sites with large enough numbers to be analyzed individually – Parler, Rumble, Telegram and Truth Social – largely say they are satisfied with their experience getting news on the sites, that they find the information there to be mostly accurate, and that the discussions are mostly friendly.
At the same time, however, the study finds signs that these sites may be another symptom of the increasingly polarized public discourse – and Americans’ partisan divisions in the broader news media environment.
It’s entirely possible that these platforms will simply crumble, as will their successors.
It seems equally likely we will see an increased balkanization of the broader internet, however. On many fronts, that will be a welcome change.
If that does happen, if we do we retreat into our own little caves, it’s hard to say whether that will improve this political polarization or make it worse. In the most optimistic scenario, arranging the internet more by smaller communities of interests — like it used to be — could remove politics as a more central rallying point online and create friendlier, less combative online spaces. In the worst case scenario, we all burrow into our dens, retreat from broader society, and radicalize each other, creating a thousand little networks of unrelated conspiracy theories and deranged grievances that, back in the real world, further make nation-state politics untenable.
This is a good companion piece to Joshua Benton’s reporting (previously linked) on a study indicating that few Twitter users are in ideological bubbles. One cannot generally say the same about the audiences on many of these alternative social platforms, which are specifically marketed as more accepting of edgelords and extremists.