Non-Polar Opposites: Analyzing the Relationship Between Echo Chambers and Hostile Intergroup Interactions on Reddit

25 Nov 2022  ·  Alexandros Efstratiou, Jeremy Blackburn, Tristan Caulfield, Gianluca Stringhini, Savvas Zannettou, Emiliano De Cristofaro ·

Previous research has documented the existence of both online echo chambers and hostile intergroup interactions. In this paper, we explore the relationship between these two phenomena by studying the activity of 5.97M Reddit users and 421M comments posted over 13 years. We examine whether users who are more engaged in echo chambers are more hostile when they comment on other communities. We then create a typology of relationships between political communities based on whether their users are toxic to each other, whether echo chamber-like engagement with these communities is associated with polarization, and on the communities' political leanings. We observe both the echo chamber and hostile intergroup interaction phenomena, but neither holds universally across communities. Contrary to popular belief, we find that polarizing and toxic speech is more dominant between communities on the same, rather than opposing, sides of the political spectrum, especially on the left; however, this mainly points to the collective targeting of political outgroups.

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