Underneath the Filter Bubble: The Role of Weak Ties and Network Cultural Diversity in Cross-Cutting Exposure to Disagreements on Social Media

Seong Jae Min, Donghee Yvette Wohn


While the idea of the filter bubble, in which people are sheltered from challenging and disagreeable news, is a valid concern for democracy, it requires much theoretical sophistication and empirical support.  This paper explores the extent and scope of filter bubble effects, employing the concept of “cross-cutting exposure,” or exposure to disagreeable viewpoints, on social media.  Survey analysis of 271 Facebook users suggests they do get exposed to cross-cutting information frequently, and that cross-cutting information was more likely to come from weak ties, or acquaintances and strangers in their network, as opposed to strong ties of friends and families.  Furthermore, those who have ethnically and religiously more diverse networks were more likely to be exposed to cross-cutting information.  Taken together, it is argued that the current concern for the filter bubble is rather exaggerated and that one’s network characteristics, such as network compositions and cultural diversity, can influence the degree of the filter bubble.


cross-cutting exposure, diversity, Facebook; filter bubble; weak ties

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