Algorithmic personalization of news and social media content aims to improve user experience; however, there is evidence that this filtering can have the unintended side effect of creating homogeneous “filter bubbles,” in which users are over-exposed to ideas that conform with their preexisting perceptions and beliefs. In this paper, we investigate this phenomenon in the context of political news recommendation algorithms, which have important implications for civil discourse. We first collect and curate a collection of over 900K news articles from over 40 sources annotated by topic and partisan lean. We then conduct simulation studies to investigate how different algorithmic strategies affect filter bubble formation. Drawing on Pew studies of political typologies, we identify heterogeneous effects based on the user’s pre- existing preferences. For example, we find that i) users with more extreme preferences are shown less diverse content but have higher click-through rates than users with less extreme preferences, ii) content-based and collaborative-filtering recommenders result in markedly different filter bubbles, and iii) when users have divergent views on different topics, recommenders tend to have a homogenization effect.

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