As Facebook and other social networks continue to evolve, their impact increases with every election year. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project studied how many social media users participated in eight different activities using their social media accounts.
The Pew study found that:
- 38 percent of respondents use their social media accounts to like or promote material related to politics or social issues posted by others. 52 percent of liberal Democrats have used the Facebook like button for such purposes, compared with 42 percent of conservative Republicans.
- 35 percent have used social media tools to encourage friends and followers to vote, with 42 percent of Democrats doing so, versus 36 percent of Republicans, and 31 percent of independents.
- 34 percent have posted their own thoughts or comments on political or social issues, led by liberal Democrats (42 percent) and conservative Republicans (41 percent).
- 33 percent have reposted someone else’s content related to political or social issues, with 39 percent of Republicans doing so, compared with 34 percent of Democrats, and 31 percent of independents.
- 31 percent have used social media tools to encourage friends or followers to take action on political and social issues: 36 percent of Democrats, 34 percent of Republicans, and 29 percent of independents.
- 28 percent have used social media tools to post links to political stories, with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans again leading the way, at 39 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
- 21 percent belong to groups on social networks that are involved in political or social issues, with Pew finding no major discrepancies by party.
- 20 percent like or follow elected officials or candidates, with 32 percent of conservative Republicans doing so, as well as 27 percent of liberal Democrats.
Pew said in the introduction to its study:
Overall, there are mixed partisan and ideological patterns among social media users when it comes to using social media like social networking sites and Twitter. The social media users who talk about politics on a regular basis are the most likely to use social media for civic or political purposes. And the social media users who have firmer party and ideological ties — liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans — are, at times, more likely than moderates in both parties to use social media for these purposes.
Some of these activities are more likely to be pursued by younger social media users, compared with the social media users who are ages 50 or older. Younger users are more likely to post their own thoughts about issues, post links to political material, encourage others to take political action, belong to a political group on a social networking site, follow elected officials on social media, and like or promote political material others have posted.
Readers: Were you surprised by any of the findings of the Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project study?
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