Considering the United States is a nation of diverse political and religious backgrounds, it's not surprising that certain political statements would hit some nerves and stir the pot. A survey from Pew (News - Alert) Research Center's Internet & American life project suggests social networks are no different than the average cafe or bar as far as political forums go.
The survey consolidated its final results in February this year and included 2,253 Americans at a minimum age of 18. One of the first patterns seen in the Pew study showed that while 80 percent of Americans use the Internet and 66 percent use social networking, three quarters of everyone using a social network posted political material. This incited criticism of social networking from political authorities, who blame the Internet for the changing political views of people, calling them "echo chambers."
The Pew study, however, rebuts with another statistic: 25 percent of social network users have a tendency to agree with their friends' political messages. The other 75 percent find themselves uncomfortable at the very least.
Statistics go on to specify what users feel about political content: 73 percent rarely or never agree with the political material their friends post, while 66 percent of those who aren’t comfortable with their friends' political views ignore the posts completely. A little over one-fifth of all social networking users in America actually exercise restraint for their own political views because they are afraid of offending their friends.
Something natural, but still surprising, is the fact that 38 percent of social networking users learned that their friends had different political views than one would have assumed. This happened more frequently with extreme liberal or conservative viewpoints.
Still more interesting is the number of people who decide to block, unfriend or hide the posts of someone who has different political views. The figure is at 18 percent, mostly due to frequent political postings, offensive material or behavior with which one would be uncomfortable, like conflict mongering.
Liberals are the guiltiest of blocking (28 percent) based on political reasons, while 16 percent of conservatives and 14 percent of moderates actually block their friends on political grounds.
Edited by Braden Becker