An alternative rabbit hole? An analysis of the construction of echo chambers within coronavirus activism groups op Telegram.
Doesburg, J.W.A. van
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In 2020 the whole world changed radically over one year due to the coronavirus. This caused misinformation and conspiracy theories to spread, which mainstream social media platforms attempted to reduce by censoring certain information, profiles, or groups. This was mainly due to the fear of the creation of so-called echo chambers. The activists started to migrate to the alternative social medium Telegram. Previous research has shown that alternative news and social media play a considerable role in the construction of such echo chambers on mainstream social media. Therefore, this research has attempted to answer the following question: to what extent and how do alternative news and social media contribute to the construction of echo chambers within the hybrid media ecology of coronavirus activism groups on Telegram? With the use of distant reading and close reading, this research analyzed five coronavirus activism groups on Telegram. The analysis showed that alternative social media and alternative news media play a different roles in the construction of echo chambers. Alternative social media tended to contribute more within the large environment as it caused a space where only certain beliefs and ideas are shared and where discussion about topics was out of the ordinary. On the contrary, alternative news media caused many different platforms to be shared, causing the group members to be exposed to many different opinions and views.