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DONDENA Seminar - Kevin Arceneaux

Kevin Arceneaux
Remote video URL
Is Political Ignorance Bliss? The Social and Political Effects of Facebook

Seminar co-organized with the P&I Unit

“Is Political Ignorance Bliss? The Social and Political Effects of Facebook”

SPEAKER: Kevin Arceneaux (Sciences Po)


Nearly three billion people actively use Facebook, making it the largest social media platform in the world. Previous research shows that the social media platform reduces users’ happiness, while increasing political knowledge. It also may increase partisan polarization. Working to build a scientific consensus, we test whether the potential negative effects of Facebook use can be overcome with the help of minimalist informational interventions that a parallel line of research has shown to be effective at inducing people to be more accurate and civil. We conducted a preregistered well-powered Facebook deactivation experiment during the 2022 French presidential election. In line with previous research, we find that Facebook reduces happiness, informs, and increases partisan polarization but only among college educated individuals. In contrast, we find little evidence that minimalist informational interventions in a field setting helped individuals who deactivated Facebook to seek out news, be more accurate or less polarized.


Kevin Arceneaux is Professor of Political Science at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po (CEVIPOF). The overarching focus of his research is how social and political groups influence political attitudes and behavior.


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