According to Pew Internet of the Pew Research Center, “60% of American adults use either social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter” for civic engagement and politics, which should come as no surprise to anyone that frequents the two sites during the four recent debates by the candidates. Social media and politics have become so intertwined that it would be highly improbable for there to be a day that politics are not discussed on Facebook or Twitter; the two sites have become key components to the presidential campaigns but are also vital for some as a source of news. The constant flow and sharing of information on social networking sites has also fired up some individuals to the point that they have lost friends and family members. Some could also be fired from their jobs because of how they express their political views.
Almost anyone with an account on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking site, has been involved in “liking,” retweeting, or sharing a political story to express their views on an issue. This has become even more common since the 2008 presidential election, which, according to Businessweek, people no longer viewed voting as a private activity since they “…enthusiastically parted the voting booth curtain to share their experiences on the Internet. Some wanted to advertise their support of a particular candidate or ballot measure.”
The mixing of social media and politics has caused some people that are extremely vocal about their politics on social media sites to lose some of their friends. This phenomenon is not new, and has been acknowledged by many people since the onslaught of people getting involved with social media and politics.
CNN’s Chelsea Carter writes, “It’s a story that’s been playing out on Facebook and Twitter with growing frequency among friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances as an already contentious presidential campaign between Romney and President Barack Obama enters its final, frenzied weeks. Your close friends may share your political views, but that eccentric uncle, former co-worker or high school classmate may not,” and it is true. It is also one of the easiest ways to alienate those closest to you that one day may be needed for something important, such as networking — one of the main purposes social networking sites should be utilized for — or even a promotion at work.
According to Pew Internet over 50% of people that identify as very conservative, liberal, or very liberal, have learned that some of their friends and family have different political views than they originally thought from social networking sites.
From the newly found information, 10% of these users reportedly blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the respective social networking site for their frequest posts on political subjects. 5% of social networking site users blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on the respective site simply because they thought that person’s views would offend other friends. Only 4% of users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on a social networking site for posting something a user disagreed with.
If an individual is willing to block, unfriend, or hide another user that he or she is close with because of the political views expressed, it should come as no surprise when the action is returned by another user. Social networking sites are an easy way to express views and share information, but they are also an easy way to reveal what used to be considered private information. Views expressed on social networking sites could cost someone their friends, familial relations, or even a future job as some employers now search applicants on the web; social networking sites are more likely to appear on the top of a search.