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:
SNS Users In Each Party/Group Who Say That SNS Are “Very Important” Or “Somewhat Important” For Each Activity (% Of Respondents)
Keeping up with political news
Recruiting people to get involved with political issues that matter to you
Finding other people who share your views about important political issues
Debating or discussing political issues with others
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
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:
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.
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:
For additional information and to access the PDF file, please visit the PewInternet here.