Ever defriended someone whose Facebook posts became too political? Well, you’re not alone. A senior researcher for the Pew Research Center said about 20 percent of social media users have defriended or blocked someone whose partisan posts became a little too much.

Snark on Twitter, however, tends to get a lot more attention than just tweeted links in the political sphere.

Researchers from Georgia, Missouri and the Pew Research Center presented their findings on social media and how it relates to politics and the public at a session of 2013 Hurley Symposium, "Twitterocracy: How Social Media Are Transforming Politics and Journalism."

Mitchell S. McKinneyUniversity of Missouri Associate Professor Mitchell S. McKinney and Assistant Professor J. Brian Houston study how news organizations understand and use talk on Twitter. McKinney moderated the discussion.

View Houston's presentation

Houston reported that folks who live tweeted during the presidential debate this past fall tended to watch more of the debates overall, but they didn’t necessarily enjoy them more.

J. Brian HoustonAccording to Houston, the priorities of communities can often be gleaned from tweets surrounding political events like debates. For example, Houston demonstrated how tweets in Dallas and Jacksonville touched on different issues at different rates, showing that not all communities are alike.

Itai Himelboim, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia, focused on how people interact with each other on Twitter.

Itai HimelboimHimelboim discussed how on Twitter political groups tend to tweet almost exclusively among themselves with very little conversation with the other side of the virtual aisle.

View Himelboim's presentation

However, the groups don't necessarily avoid the other side. He said that each group takes the stance that they'll talk about the other group, just not to them.

Aaron SmithIn 2008, about one-third of Internet users used social media, said Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. Now, that number is upwards of 65 percent.

Twitter users are more likely to be young, liberal and black, while Facebook users — a bigger proportion of social media users — tend to be more representative of the general population, Smith said.


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