Ordinary citizens are increasingly using mobile instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp for politically-related activities. Compared to other ‘semi-public’ online platforms, WhatsApp provides a more intimate and controlled environment in which users can almost simultaneously gather and share news, discuss politics, and mobilize others. Relying on two-wave panel data collected in Spain, USA, and New Zealand, this study examines the mediating role of WhatsApp political discussion in the relationships between different types of news use and various forms of political participation. First, our findings reveal WhatsApp discussion has a positive influence on activism, and a more nuanced effect on conventional participation. Second, results are partially supportive of a fully mediated set of influences between news media and social media news uses and both types of participation via WhatsApp. Finally, the study examines age differential effects between younger (Gen Xers and Millennials) and older (Boomers) age groups.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Library and Information Sciences