Following one of the nastiest presidential elections in recent memory, it’s no surprise that many Americans feel moved to “unfriend” social media contacts with whom they disagree on political issues – and it turns out liberals are far more likely to dump their online friends because of their political beliefs. That’s according to a new survey of 1,004 U.S. adults by the Public Religion Research Institute, conducted in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton last month.
Overall, the PRRI survey found that 13% of Americans said they have blocked or unfriended someone due to their political statements online. Taking a closer look at these data, PRRI found that 28% of self-identified liberals have given an online contact the boot, versus just 8% of self-identified conservatives.
Similarly, when asked about their party allegiance, 24% of people who identify as Democrats said they have unfriended someone, compared to 9% of Republicans and 9% of independents.
Across the board, women were substantially more likely to unfriend someone due to their political views within a particular party allegiance, according to PRRI. Thus, 10% of Republican women had cut off contact, compared to 8% of Republican men, while 30% of Democratic women had done so, compared to 14% of Democratic men.
PRRI noted there may be a number of explanations for the disparity between liberals and conservatives when it comes to unfriending. For example, Democratic supporters may be more upset about their defeat, while victorious GOP supporters are feeling magnanimous. More troubling, some segments of the Democratic social media population, including women and racial minorities, may be more likely to become the targets of online troll activity.Interestingly, a previous survey by Pew Research Center found that Liberal Democrats were more likely to say that they changed their opinions regarding an issue or candidate because of social media, with 25% claiming the former and 20% claiming the latter. By contrast, 13% of conservative Republicans said they changed their views about an issue because of social media, and 11% changed their opinion about a candidate.