In the joint study „In my opinion? Information intermediaries and forming opinions- a multi method study using Facebook as an example” with the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz and IFAK we investigated whether and to what extent so-called intermediaries i.e., personalised news sources such as facebook influence how users perceive topics and form opinions on political matters.
For this study, we recruited 350 men and women between the ages of 14 and 69 from our Access Panel. To precisely capture the complex interdependencies and to also identify the unconscious and random information paths, the results were evaluated in a multi method mix of user surveys, data tracking of internet usage as well as online group discussions.
The result: The importance of the intermediary for the forming of opinions is overestimated. According to the study, facebook is one of many news sources and any misgivings that users move in filter bubbles and in this way, receive only limited information are unfounded. The results of the study revealed that currently, personalised sources are still used considerably less often than the classic and well-balanced sources.
„If the relation of personalised to classical news sources was reversed i.e., if the importance of classic media as a source of information diminished, this could have an effect on how opinions are formed “, emphasised Prof. Dr. Birgit Stark from the institute of Journalism at tthe JohannesGutenberg-University in Mainz.