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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Study: Social network users disagree politically

A majority of social networking site users disagree with friends’ posts that convey their political views, and are willing to say so, according to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found that almost 40 percent of users discovered through a post on a social networking site that their friends held different political views than they had previously thought.

While a higher percentage of liberals use social networking sites than conservatives, according to the study, the tension from both sides can be viewed on social networking sites almost every day.

The project revealed that only 25 percent of users on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter say they always or mostly agree with their friends’ postings, and that the majority of social networking site users who disagreed with political posts by their friends and followers either responded with comments of their own or ignored the posts altogether.

“Essentially, computer-mediated communication is allowing us to reduce uncertainty about people (or form opinions) before the face-to-face communication has a chance to take place,” said Kyle Oman, a communication graduate student and Arizona Student Unions social media coordinator. “This comes into play with political views and opinions, because the ability to view political affiliations is available at literally the earliest convenience.”

Oman explained that when people post about politics or list their political beliefs on social networking sites, their friends form opinions about them right away and, in some cases, even before they meet each other.

“I think that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr have all broadened the scope of youth political involvement,” said Erik Lundstrom, president of the Young Democrats and a political science junior. When people get their news and political information from correct and accurate sources, he said, political social networking can help educate and raise awareness for users.

“The downside with social networking sites is that only certain topics may be brought to the table and other very important ones are left out,” said political science senior Lauren Bouton, the president of the College Republicans.

On the Internet, people tend to only pay attention to individuals that agree with their viewpoints, Bouton said, which creates narrow-minded perspectives on political topics.

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