Nearly 60% of Social Media Users Frustrated by Politics

John Lister's picture

One in five people say social media posts have changed their minds on political issues this year. But many of those changes have been to a negative position.

The statistic comes from the Pew Research Center, which regularly surveys Internet users on their online activities. It found that 20 percent of the social media users it questioned in its latest study said they have changed their minds about a social or political issue because of something they saw on a social media service, while 17 percent said they have changed their minds about a specific candidate. (Source:

In both cases, it appears people who describe themselves as a liberal Democrat are about twice as likely to say they've changed their minds as those who describe themselves as a conservative Republican. The difference is much less pronounced among those who declare themselves a moderate supporter of either party.

Change Often For The Worse

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the tone of this year's electoral race, it seems these changes have often been negative. When it comes to the two main Presidential candidates, those who had changed their minds about Hillary Clinton were three times as likely to have changed to a negative position than to a positive position. With Donald Trump, the switch to negative was five times as common as the switch to positive.

The findings build upon another recent Pew survey which found social media users generally have a negative experience of discussing politics on such sites. 37 percent said seeing lots of political posts had left them "worn out" while only 20 percent said they liked seeing so much discussion.

Most Users Stressed By Disagreements

Users didn't seem to enjoy online debate, with 59 percent saying discussions with people they disagreed with was "stressful and frustrating" compared to 35 percent saying discussing with people holding different views was "interesting and informative." Often a shock factor was in play, with 64 percent saying that when they debated politics with people they disagreed with, they found they had less in common politically with the person than they had assumed.

In many cases, users opted out of the conversation. 83 percent said they ignored political posts that they disagreed with rather than replying. Meanwhile 39 percent had altered settings to either see fewer or no posts from people they disagreed with politically or end their relationship with them on the site completely. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

How have you found political debate and posts on social media sites this year? Have you ever changed your mind because of posts or links on such sites? Have you ever taken steps to see fewer of the posts with views or claims that you disagree with?

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guitardogg's picture

I guess the thing that strikes me the most in all of this, is the fact that posting utter lies to support one's position (or candidate) seems to be the norm. If it supports your view, you post any BS meme that comes along. No one is vetting anything, they just post away! Posting lies should weaken your position, as it should make you look stupid! But in this election cycle, it seems to be the opposite. They see it working for a certain loud-mouth, and I guess that is empowering at some level. Now that it is over, can we PLEASE go back to some level of honesty, and even more important, some kindness to each other?!?

Sparkydog's picture

From my experience this past election season, I didn't think it was too bad.
I took the initiative to get people more educated about our government and the candidate's issues, whether true, or not.
I have to agree with guitardogg that many people did not vet what they posted on FaceBook. I took that opportunity to ask them to please fact-check a story before posting it, and to use different sources to fact-check it, not just snopes or politi-fact, opined by some as left-leaning websites, but to try to use neutral websites (if you can find one).
This election exposed a level of corruption not seen in our capital since it's inception.
I took it upon myself to ask everyone, that I conversed with, to please, be an informed voter.
I'm not sure if I changed any minds, but my main focus was to educate and get the facts out there.

durbandon's picture

Why should anyone think Pew is any more accurate than the other pollsters? The most important thing to bear in mind is that by definition 50% of the electorate has an IQ of 100 or less.