News Consumption of Russian Vkontakte Users: Polarization and News Avoidance

Aleksandra Urman


This study explores the patterns of news consumption of Russian users of Vkontakte, the most popular social media platform in Russia, based on a sample of 55,344 users. The analysis is conducted via a combination of network analysis techniques. It demonstrates that the majority of Vkontakte users do not subscribe to news sources, demonstrating that there is a politically apathetic majority and news-interested minority. And news subscribers are polarized along political lines. There is a distinct group of users who subscribe to pro-opposition-leaning politicized sources more than other users do. This study builds on research on polarization, selective exposure, and the role of social media in authoritarian regimes. It provides new empirical evidence on the way that selective exposure and polarization manifest themselves on a non-Western platform in an authoritarian state.


Russia, Vkontakte, news consumption, polarization, network analysis, social media, news avoidance

Full Text: