Sharing and discussing politics on Facebook: A user and network-centric approach

Abstract

This study explores the relationship between social network information and technological affordances of Facebook in the context of political news exposure and discussion. Addressing a gap in previous research in this domain, a focus group is used to gain detailed insights about how users consider social information and perceive affordances when deciding whether to engage with political content on Facebook. A total of 50 undergraduate students were included in the guided discussion. The results indicated that individuals generally have a fairly strong distaste for getting involved in political discussions on Facebook. They do, however, pay close enough attention to the political discourse occurring among friends, family, and acquaintances on the site to have distinct impressions of the views of those peers. This ability to witness political expression makes Facebook an abundant source of exposure to political information and counterattitudinal views among those who otherwise would not seek them out. Participants who use multiple social networking sites see their network peers on Facebook as uniquely broad and diverse in comparison to other platforms. Further implications will be discussed.

Date
Event
102nd Annual Convention of the National Communication Association
Location
Philadelphia, PA
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