This study examines the intersection of social and mainstream news:
The paper considers how social media ecologies are affecting partisan engagement around political news and online attention economies by investigating the case of the 2018 Italian general election. By analyzing Twitter and Facebook interactions around political news in the lead-up to the election, we shed light on levels of insularity characterizing sources preferred by different partisan communities and investigate how specific patterns of active attention emerge around different sources and around stories proposing different framing of specific political actors. Our findings indicate that, on Twitter, sources mainly shared by supporters of populist parties (the Five Star Movement and the League) are characterized by higher levels of insularity compared to those shared by supporters of other parties. We also find that, on Facebook, news items published by highly insular sources receive a higher number of shares per comment. Finally, our analyses show that news presenting a positive framing of the Five Star Movement – the unique ‘cyber party’ in the system – receives a higher number of shares per comment compared to items presenting the Movement in a negative light, while the opposite is true for stories on all other political parties.