Cristian Vaccari has published a new article, coauthored with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna), on the relationship between accidental exposure to political news on social media and political participation. The article is part of a special issue on Civic political engagement and social change in the new digital age, guest edited by Karolina Koc-Michalska, Darren G Lilleker, and Thierry Vedel.
In the article, Valeriani and Vaccari show that accidental exposure to political news on social media is quite widespread among internet users in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, and that such accidental exposure, in turn, is strongly and positively correlated with online political engagement. Moreover, the correlation is relatively stronger among individuals who are less interested in politics than among those who are more interested in politics. As a result, accidental exposure to political news on social media can have positive implications for democracy, as it both increases online political engagement across the board and closes the engagement gap between citizens who are more interested in politics and those who are less interested.
The article is based on survey data collected as part of WebPolEU, a three-year comparative research project on social media and political engagement funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, of which Vaccari is the Principal Investigator.