Talking About Politics on Social Media Actually Does Make a Difference

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Social-media political posts may actually work.Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The political posts clogging up your Facebook and Twitter feeds may seem pointless, but according to new research, these posts actually have the power to sway certain users to rethink their political views.

A report from the Pew Research Center found that 20 percent of social-media users modified their stance on a political or social issue because of something they saw posted to social media. Additionally, 17 percent reported that social media helped alter their perspective on a specific candidate. Democrats were found to be more likely than Republicans to say that they changed their views because of social media.

The survey, which was conducted this summer, included responses from people who reported that individual candidates were the “political or social issue” they modified their stance on. Nearly 20 percent of those users mentioned either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, while 10 percent mentioned Bernie Sanders. One user wrote:

“I thought Donald Trump was leaning one way on an issue and a friend posted something that was opposite of what I believe. This caused me to think less of him than I once I did.”

The report also found that 13 percent of users who changed their minds mentioned race, police brutality, or Black Lives Matter in some form. One respondent wrote:

“Black lives matter vs. All lives matter: I’m white. Initially, I saw nothing wrong with saying ‘All lives matter’ – because all lives do matter. Through social media I’ve seen many explanations of why that statement is actually dismissive of the current problem of black lives seeming to matter less than others and my views have changed.”

Other areas in which users changed their stances include gun control, gay rights, and immigration. Looks like people’s annoying habit of airing their opinions on social media may actually be working.

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