The Limited Consequences of Broken Campaign Promises: Experimental Evidence from the United States and Israel

(with Alon Zoizner)

A Meta-Analysis Finds No Evidence That Citizens Learn About Politics from Social Media

(with Alon Zoizner)

In a representative democracy, it is vital for citizens to be sufficiently informed about what is happening in politics. Prior research establishes that using traditional news media makes individuals more politically knowledgeable. However, people nowadays turn increasingly to social networking sites (SNS) to get political information. Despite this fundamental change in many citizens’ information environment, the impact of SNS use on how politically informed people are remains unclear, as previous studies have proposed varying theoretical perspectives on this relationship and arrived at highly conflicting empirical results. To shed light on these ambiguities, we have conducted a pre-registered meta-analysis of all available experimental and observational research investigating this relationship. Analyzing 76 effect sizes (N = 442,136), we find little evidence that social media contribute to citizens’ political knowledge. Moderator analyses reveal that this null effect is consistent across social media platforms, types of knowledge, goals of social media use, countries, and periods. However, experimental studies report small yet statistically significant knowledge gains from social media use. This result can be explained by the improved ability of randomized experiments to account for confounding variables and reduced measurement error in experiments, which manipulate social media use instead of using less accurate self-report measures. Taken together, our results offer a pessimistic view of the influence of social media on democracy. According to existing evidence, they contribute only minimally, if at all, to making citizens more politically informed.