Topic polarization and push notifications

Madelyn Rose Sanfilippo, Yafit Lev-Aretz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the fake news era, a combination of politics, big technology, and fear and animosity are blamed for the media mistrust and filter bubbles that are entrenching fragmentation in the public sphere. A partisan divide in the media and extreme political disagreements are nothing new, but new technology, such as social media and mobile push notifications, influences these years-old phenomena and plays an important role in current concerns. This paper explores how stories are represented differently by topic and across platforms, examining representation, polarization, and objectivity. Specifically, this paper looks at those issues from a novel perspective: through sentiment analysis of push notifications generated and archived from the Breaking News App on disasters, gun violence, and terrorism. Results indicate that partisan news organizations (1) emphasize different stories; (2) label the same events as categorically different; (3) hyperbolize and emotionalize different types of stories; and, (4) represent different categories of breaking news stories to different degrees of subjectivity.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFirst Monday
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • push notifications
  • fourth estate
  • polarization
  • partisanship


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