66% of Social Network Users Ignore Political Posts That They Disagree With

One of the results of social media is that you get to see many different aspects of a person’s personality, and one aspect of this that may not crop up in everyday discussion is politics.

The internet has become a medium for its discussion – one only has to look at all the activity online around the 2012 US Presidential election, such as Dick Costolo of Twitter prediciting that “’2012 is going to be the Twitter election’”, to get a sense of just how important online politics has become.

As there is a proliferation of political news and content on the web, and with social networks providing the means to share and comment on such topics, you may have experienced friends’ political views being expressed online.

The results of a study from the Pew Research Centre’s Internet and American Life Project yielded some interesting results in relation to politics and social media, finding that 38 per cent of social networking sites (SNS) users have “discovered through a friend’s posts that his/her political beliefs were different than the user though they were.”

Politics More Visible Online Than In Day to Day Life?

This could be to do with the fact that many people would not discuss politics with their friends in day-to-day life because it simply does not come up in conversation, and also because it’s easier to think deeply about a topic and articulate your political views while sitting alone typing than it is in a real life conversation when your interacting with someone.

However, this also means that posting about your political views on a social network makes it easier to irritate someone with your online views, because the information is unfiltered by the the niceties of real world conversation.

However, the survey found that when users disagree with a friend’s post, 66 per cent of these users say they “usually ignore the posts”, which is interesting suggesting that people do not want to rock the boat and put their friendships on the line, even though they disagree with what’s being said.

Political Posts Lead To 18% Of People Blocking, Unfriending or Hiding

This links to the fact that 75 per cent of respondents said that “their friends post at least some content related to politics” and 18 per cent of users have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone for at least one reason to do with political activity, such as “posted too frequently about political subjects”, “posted something about politics or issues that they disagreed with or found offensive” or “because they disagreed with something the user posted about politics.”

As 18 per cent is a low figure, this indicates that perhaps most people do not care enough about politics, or at least the politics posted by their friends, to remove them from their feed, which could also suggest a healthy awareness of many aspects of politics, not just encasing oneself with what one wants to hear.

People who are politically engaged can channel their views through social media, and the survey found that “very liberal users and very conservative users are often the most likely to have acted for and against others on SNS”, and 47 per cent of users have ‘liked’ political material or comments posted by someone else. You can view the results of the survey here. 

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