Project on Democracy and the Internet

Internet Literacy: How do different people use the internet?

In partnership with


The use of online convenience samples for conducting survey and other kinds of experiments has rapidly become commonplace. There is evidence that many experimental findings from lab experiments have been replicated using these samples, but we call attention to a set of research questions for which these samples are theoretically inappropriate: the study of online political behaviors moderated by a person’s level of digital literacy. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is the most prominent source of subjects for these experiments, but 100% of subjects recruited via this platform are above a threshold of digital literacy below which there are many internet users. We demonstrate the use of Facebook advertisements to recruit subjects which vary along this dimension.


  • Kevin Munger, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Penn State University