Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Political Environment on Social Media

At Pew Research:

Some users enjoy the opportunities for political debate and engagement that social media facilitates, but many more express resignation, frustration over the tone and content of social platforms.

In a political environment defined by widespread polarization and partisan animosity, even simple conversations can go awry when the subject turns to politics. In their in-person interactions, Americans can (and often do) attempt to steer clear of those with whom they strongly disagree.

But online social media environments present new challenges. In these spaces, users can encounter statements they might consider highly contentious or extremely offensive – even when they make no effort to actively seek out this material. Similarly, political arguments can encroach into users’ lives when comment streams on otherwise unrelated topics devolve into flame wars or partisan bickering. Navigating these interactions can be particularly fraught in light of the complex mix of close friends, family members, distant acquaintances, professional connections and public figures that make up many users’ online networks.

A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that political debate and discussion is indeed a regular fact of digital life for many social media users, and some politically active users enjoy the heated discussions and opportunities for engagement that this mix of social media and politics facilitates. But a larger share expresses annoyance and aggravation at the tone and content of the political interactions they witness on these platforms. Among the key findings of this survey...