A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and Oxford University have developed a new method to analyse the content of self-reported media.
They report their findings in the journal Media Psychology.
The researchers, led by Dr Michael Smith from the Centre for Media and Society at Oxford University, compared the self-reports of people who were using various online platforms to self-report the content that they saw.
They used a survey technique called the Self-Assessment of Online Content (SAOIC) to assess self-reporting of media.
The SAOIC asks people to list the most popular sources of information in the social media space they were following, and to provide feedback on how they felt about that information.
The results were then compared with a self-survey of users of a traditional internet survey platform.
To their surprise, the researchers found that people who reported using the internet more often reported more of the news sources they reported viewing more often than those who reported less.
They also reported that they viewed more content about themselves.
“We have found that individuals who are more frequently and consistently online report more news sources than those that are more rarely or rarely online,” they wrote.
“For example, we found that in the study of self reported news sources, self reported online content was rated as more important than self reported offline content by a significantly greater proportion of respondents.”
Dr Smith said that the researchers had expected that online users would report more content when they were more likely to be online.
“But we also expect that people will self-censor and limit their exposure to media,” he said.
“That’s what this research is all about: to help people self-regulate what they are viewing online and to help them understand their online behaviour.”
Dr Scott, who was not involved in the research, said that there were two major limitations to the study.
First, the SAOICS did not include all the sources of news on social media that people self report.
Second, the survey method did not differentiate between the different types of media people report, such as online video and audio.
“Our results suggest that online content is not necessarily self-censored and is thus not necessarily filtered by users,” Dr Scott said.