Understanding the democratic role of perceived online political micro-targeting: longitudinal effects on trust in democracy and political interest

Jörg Matthes*, Melanie Hirsch, Marlis Stubenvoll, Alice Binder, Sanne Kruikemeier, Sophie Lecheler, Lukas Otto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

With the increasing availability of big digital voter data, there are rising concerns that online political micro-targeting (PMT) may be harmful for democratic societies. However, PMT may also be beneficial to democracy because it targets voters with content that matches with their predispositions, potentially increasing political interest. For both, harmful and beneficial outcomes of PMT, we lack empirical evidence on the side of citizens. In a two-wave panel survey study, we tested the reciprocal relationships over time between perceived online PMT, trust in democracy, and political interest. We found that perceived online PMT leads to a decrease of trust in democracy, but also to an increase in political interest. The effect on political interest was independent from age. No reciprocal effects of trust in democracy and political interest on perceived PMT were observed. Overall, the results suggest that the democratic implications of PMT are more nuanced than previously assumed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • democracy
  • Personalized political ads
  • political interest
  • trust in democracy

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the democratic role of perceived online political micro-targeting: longitudinal effects on trust in democracy and political interest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this