Social Networks And Politics

by , Sep 10, 2012, 6:15 AM
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The Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project says that campaign and policy-related material on Social Networks (SNS) plays a modest role in influencing most users’ views and political activities. Democrats and liberals are the most likely to say the sites have impact and are important and the politically engaged stand out in their use of the sites.

Those who describe their political beliefs as moderate or liberal are more likely than conservatives to use social networking sites: 74% of internet users who describe themselves as liberal use SNS and 70% of internet users who are moderate are SNS users. 60% of conservative Internet users who are SNS users.

Accordingly, some, but not most, users of social networking sites say the sites are important for a variety of political activities:

  • 36% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news
  • 26% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them
  • 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them for debating or discussing political issues with others
  • 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in finding other people who share their views about important political issues

SNS Users In Each Party/Group Who Say That SNS Are “Very Important” Or “Somewhat Important” For Each Activity (% Of Respondents)

Important

Democrats

Republicans

Independents

Keeping up with political news

48%

34%

33%

Recruiting people to get involved with political issues that matter to you

35%

 25%

22%

Finding other people who share your views about important political issues

34%

23%

22%

Debating or discussing political issues with others

32%

24%

23%

Source: PewResearch Feb 2012, September 2012

SNS-using blacks are significantly more likely than SNS-using whites to feel that the sites are important for these political activities. And younger SNS users (those ages 18-29) are more likely than older site users to think the sites are important in this way.

Use of social networking sites sometimes impacts people’s political views and involvement

  • 25% of SNS users say they have become more active in a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites
  • 16% of SNS users say they have changed their views about a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites
  • 9% of SNS users say they have become less involved in a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites

Democrats and liberals who use social networking sites are more likely than others to say their activities on the sites have led them to become more active:

  • 33% of SNS-using Democrats are more active
  • 24% of both SNS-using Republicans and SNS-using independents are more active
  • 39% of SNS-using liberals say their use of the sites has gotten them more involved in an issue
  • 24% of SNS-using conservatives and 21% of SNS-using moderates are more involved

84% of SNS users say they have posted little or nothing related to politics in their recent status updates, comments, and links. Only 6% of these users say that most or all of what they posted recently on social networking sites is related to politics, issues, or the 2012 campaign. Another 10% say some of what they have recently posted has been about politics.

59% say their friends on the sites have posted little or nothing about politics. Only 9% of what their SNS friends share and post is mostly or entirely about politics. In the case of friends’ posts, though, some 30% of SNS users say some of the material from their friends is about politics.

Beyond the context of social networking sites, the survey asked people how often they have political discussions with friends and family.

  • 33% of all respondents say they “very often” have political discussions with family and friends
  • 34% say they “sometimes” have such conversations
  • 20% say they “rarely” talk about politics
  • 12% say they “never” talk about politics

Those who talk very often about politics with family and friends are more likely than others to use SNS for political purposes and say their use of the sites has affected them. Here’s what the most politically engaged citizens say about their use of SNS:

  • They post about politics on SNS and are more likely to say that most of the material they post relates to politics
  • The sites are useful to them in their political activities
  • They have become more involved in an issue after reading what others have said on social networking sites
  • Their friends’ posts are about politics and that their friends’ posts are compatible with their own political views
  • They will challenge their friends’ SNS material about politics if the disagree with it
  • They have been challenged on their own political posts

For additional information and to access the PDF file, please visit the PewInternet here.

 

 

1 comment on "Social Networks And Politics".

  1. Walter Graff from Bluesky Media
    commented on: September 10, 2012 at 7:40 a.m.
    This poll lacks serious credibility. Social networks have a serious impact on people with politics, but most folks don't realize it. In fact it's one of the biggest reasons why this country is so splintered politically. Take FB for example. Most people have friends that are of the same political position as them. These friends spew perosnal beliefs that people take home as "their" thoughts. I've witnessed this many times with people expressing "their" beliefs when in actuality their friends made a comment and they simply took it on. Who are you going to trust most? Your friends, the biggest and most influential people in your life. But ask people if social media affects them and they are going to say no. They just don't see the impact because it's too close to them. In the old days people got their news and info from limited sources. And that info was presented mostly unbiased or at least far less biased than today. Today they sign on to social media and see posts like "Romney send jobs overseas" or Obama was not born in the US made by "friends" with a biased link and they need not click it, their friends said it, so they take it on far easier as truth. But ask them if such things influence them and they will most likely say no. I have lived it first hand with friends who make very biased comments with little info. I ask them to find out the source is most always social media. But they can't differentiate between what they "feel" and what they read by friends.

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