Spin Cycle

03.12.12

Unfriending Over Politics

Facebook, Twitter Users Flee Contrary Opinions

When you’re living online, politics apparently gets in the way of friendship, just like when you’re hosting a dinner party.

According to a fascinating survey by the Pew Internet Project, 9 percent of those who frequent social networking sites have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because they posed something about politics or issues that the user disagreed with or found offensive.

Eight percent have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because they argued about politics with someone the user knows.

Another 10 percent of those on such sites as Twitter and Facebook have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because they post too frequently on politics.

And 5 percent took such action because they were afraid their friends would be offended by something the other person posted.

Fascinating—the same instinct that might cause someone to gravitate away from others with opposite views also applied to web friends and followers. And being too argumentative can cost you part of your social circle.

At the same time, 16 percent have followed or friended someone because that person shared the user’s political views, Pew says.

While distant acquaintances are often involved, a third of those surveyed say they have cut off online contact with a close friend or family member. (“Was it something I said?” “No, it was something you tweeted!”)

Overall, most people take a live-and-let-live attitude. Two-thirds say they simply ignore posts with which they don’t agree.

But here’s the kicker: some 38 percent say they were surprised to learn that the political leanings of others were different than they imagined.