How do we discuss controversial topics on social media?
Answering this question is not only interesting from a societal point of view, but also has concrete implications for policy makers, news agencies, and internet companies.
In this talk, we first take a look at how collective attention, which is typically related to external events that increase the visibility of the topic, changes the debate. Our analysis shows that, in long-lived controversial debates on Twitter, increased collective attention is associated with increased network polarization.
Then, we show how content and network interact in the formation of echo chambers. As expected, Twitter users are mostly exposed to political opinions that agree with their own. In addition, users who try to bridge the echo chambers by sharing content with diverse leaning have to pay a “price of bipartisanship” in terms of their network centrality and content appreciation.