Pew Report on Politics and Social Media

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a new report on social networking sites and politics.  Among its main findings are that most Americans use social networking sites but that liberals are more likely to use  such sites than are conservatives.  It also finds that many people are surprised by what they learn about the political views of their friends and acquaintances through such sites.  The report also includes some interesting findings on how people respond to encountering political views they do not like on such sites.

Politics can be a sensitive subject and a number of SNS users have decided to block, unfriend, or hide someone because of their politics or posting activities. In all, 18% of social networking site users have taken one of those steps by doing at least one of the following:

  • 10% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because that person posted too frequently about political subjects
  • 9% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they posted something about politics or issues that they disagreed with or found offensive
  • 8% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they argued about political issues on the site with the user or someone the user knows
  • 5% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they posted something about politics that the user worried would offend other friends
  • 4% of SNS users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the site because they disagreed with something the user posted about politics

Of course, that means that 82% of SNS users have not taken any steps to ignore or disconnect from someone whose views are different – or have not encountered any views that would prompt such a move.

Liberals are the most likely to have taken each of these steps to block, unfriend, or hide. In all, 28% of liberals have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on SNS because of one of these reasons, compared with 16% of conservatives and 14% of moderates.

A description of the study’s methodology can be found here.