With November quickly approaching, Facebook is rife with election chatter, but a new study finds that even when Facebook friends disagree with each other's posts about politics, they tend to ignore the content.
In phone interviews with 2,253 adults ages 18 and over, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that only a quarter of social network users always or mostly agree with their friends political posts. The majority, 73 percent, agrees with friends' posts "only sometimes." When they do differ in opinion, 66 percent usually ignore the offending post. Just over a quarter (28 percent) responds with their own posts, and 5 percent said they might respond depending on the circumstances.
In its report, unveiled today at SXSW, Pew also learned that 38 percent of people are surprised to learn the political opinions of their friends via posts on social networks.
The most aggressive political posters are also those with the most extreme views - those that are either very conservative or very liberal.
"As a rule, the most active and engaged political participants on SNS (social networks) sit at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, yet their experiences around political material on SNS are quite similar. Very liberal users and very conservative users are often the most likely to have acted for and against others on SNS," Pew explained.
Pew also noted that among the 80 percent of adults who use the Internet, 66 percent use social networking sites. Out of this population, 75 percent said their friends post "at least some" political content and more than a third (37 percent) post political content occasionally.
Though many ignore this content, 10 percent of social network users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone because they posted about politics too often. Nine percent have done this because they disagreed with a friend or were offended by a post, and 8 percent removed or hid a friend because of an argument over political issues. However, the person removed or hidden is usually a distant friend or acquaintance, not a close friend or family member.
Last week, Pew released a report that showed Google to be overwhelmingly dominant in search, despite recent privacy concernts.
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