News use via social media has been linked to pro-democratic political behaviors. However, most people use social media for non-political purposes, like connecting with friends and browsing news feeds. Recent research indicates these behaviors may also have democratic benefits, by means of political expression in social media. Drawing on panel data from a nationally representative sample, this study extends this line of research by exploring how social interaction and news-seeking behaviors on social media lead to diverse networks, exposure to dissenting political opinion, and ultimately reconsidering and changing one’s political views. Social media are a unique communication platform, and their attributes might influence exposure to political information. The tendency for users to build and maintain friend networks creates a potential deliberative space for political persuasion to take place. Consistent with prior literature, news use leads to political persuasion. More interestingly, apolitical, but social interactive uses of social media also lead to political persuasion. These relationships are partially mediated through network and discussion attributes.

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