THE NASTINESS AND FALSEHOOD IN U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN A MIXED-METHOD STUDY OF POLITICAL TALK ON FACEBOOK DURING 2016 ELECTION SEASON
Incivility is an increasing concern in recent political communication studies. Although many studies have well documented various types of incivility in political discussions online and have thoroughly investigated effects of seeing such incivility, mismatches between the theoretical framework commonly adopted, namely, deliberative democracy theory, and the actual discussions being investigated are often ignored. Specifically, under the deliberative democracy framework, the salience of political identity and the difference in algorithmic power on online political talk are overlooked. Based on the group theory of democracy and the social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE), this study considers online political discussion as a form of identity performance where incivility targeted at outgroup members such as an opposing candidate satisfies the need to reinforce the ingroup member status of the individual using incivility. Also, such uncivil speech acts are often embraced by fellow ingroup members and sometimes condemned by outgroup members rather than being ignored. In other words, uncivil comments gain algorithmic advantage by triggering a reaction from others. As a result, incivility remains visible and even popular in online discussion.