Think You’re Seeing Political Kerfuffling on Social Networking Sites? It’s Not Your Imagination

The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new study this week, Social networking sites and politics, which revealed that:

18% of social networking site users have taken action against others due to their politics or posting activities, including:

  1. blocking, unfriending, or hiding someone because they posted something about politics or issues that they disagreed with or found offensive (9% of social networking site users),
  2. blocking unfriending, or hiding someone because they argued about political issues on the site with the user or someone the user knows (8% of social networking site users),
  3. blocking, unfriending, or hiding someone because they posted something about politics that the user worried would offend other friends (5% of social networking site users), and
  4. blocking, unfriending, or hiding someone on the site because they disagreed with something the user posted about politics (4% of social networking site users).

 

If you’re thinking that 18% doesn’t sound like a lot, consider that Facebook had 845 million monthly active users at the end of December 2011, which would amount to over 15 million users on that site alone, if the figure were extrapolated.

Pew reported that of the 18% who took blocking, unfriending or hiding actions against others online, the majority were individuals with whom they didn’t have a deep or close connection: 67% of those who blocked, unfriended, or hid someone on a social networking site did it to a distant friend or acquaintance and 31% did it to someone they had never met in person. However, a sizable 31% of those who blocked, unfriended, or hid someone on a social networking site did it to a close personal friend, 21% did it to a coworker, and 18% did it to a member of their family.

In terms of political affiliation and civility, about 37% of social networking site users received “strong negative reactions when they posted political material,” with Republicans, conservative, Democrats and liberals having “experienced the same level of challenge from their SNS friends.”

Download the entire Pew Internet & American Life Project report here.

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One Response to Think You’re Seeing Political Kerfuffling on Social Networking Sites? It’s Not Your Imagination

  1. Beverley says:

    If people argue about politics (including with family members) when they are NOT on social networking sites then they are also going to argue about politics when they ARE on social networking sites. I would have thought this was obvious.

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