Blocking on social media

March 14th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Further to my post on the   of diversity of opinion in Labour, a fascinating report by Pew on online behaviour in the US. They use the terms liberals, conservatives and moderates, which broadly are left, right and centre.

They look at behaviour amongst users of social networking sites (SNS). They find:

  • blocked/unfriended/hidden someone because they posted something you disagree with – 16% of liberals, 6% moderates, 8% conservatives
  • blocked/unfriended/hidden someone because they disagreed with something you posted  - 11% of liberals, 1% moderates, 4% conservatives

So twice as many liberals as conservatives block someone because they posted something they disagree with, and almost three times as many block you if you disagree with something they have posted.

Worth pointing out that the vast majority of both liberals and conservatives don’t block people just because they disagree with what they say.

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25 Responses to “Blocking on social media”

  1. Nick R (497 comments) says:

    Maybe liberals in the US get nastier comments.

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  2. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    Maybe their leftie trolls are as big a bunch of dickheads as ours.

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  3. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    I know it’s unfair, but I have a picture in my head of grumpy old conservatives listening to talkback radio and clicking randomly around the screen in the hopes that doing so blocks people.

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  4. gopolks (102 comments) says:

    Think that the percentage would be very different in NewZealand, I find the liberal bloggers to be almost hysterical if you write something that differs from their opinion, they will ban you or delete your post instantly.

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  5. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Think that the percentage would be very different in NewZealand, I find the liberal bloggers to be almost hysterical if you write something that differs from their opinion, they will ban you or delete your post instantly.

    Well, the evidence doesn’t look good, does it. DPF allows just about anyone to say any goddam thing here. The Standard and Red Alert routinely ban people, from what I’ve heard, for far far less than would get DPF’s attention. NRT doesn’t allow comments at all. Whale Oil doesn’t censor much, as far as I know.

    My own blog’s comments are pre-moderated (admittedly due to some pretty nasty shit people have posted in the past, rather than a concern with differing opinions, which I welcome).

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  6. gravedodger (1,509 comments) says:

    That explains the reactions at the Standard and Red Alert. f#*king liberals.

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  7. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    I can easily see that some who posted something racist or sexist, would be less offended by someone posting something disagreeing, than some posting something not racist or sexist, would be by something that was racist or sexist.

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  8. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Hmm Graeme, your comments are usually quite easy to follow. That doesn’t even sound like legalese.

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  9. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Pete,

    Offendability of less-offensive people > offendability of more-offensive people.

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  10. tom hunter (4,369 comments) says:

    I had a friend in Chicago who regularly sent me “hilarious” emails and links about McChimpyBushHitler throughout most of Bush’s first term. I never responded, even when I got a mild chuckle out of them. I can only presume that my support of Clinton when I lived there was the cause of this.

    Finally, when Reagan died, she sent me some hard-arsed screed from a writer I was already familiar with, that basically unloaded all the Greatest-Leftist-Hits-Of-The-80′s on the man. I’d had enough so replied with some counter-points on the most extreme nonsense, backed up by links to lengthy articles that went into more detail.

    The email stream dried up that day!

    But the really funny thing is that when I caught up with her during a US visit a few years later she said she was more than happy to get emails from me – as long as I did not bombard her with right-wing talking points as I had done before.

    FFS! Cognitive dissonance does not even begin to cover that. I may have rolled my eyes, which was likely also misunderstood.

    She’s currently a Facebook friend with my wife (who has known longer than I have), and I’ve been idly wondering when I will (with SWMBO’s agreement) place a small, thermonuclear device in the chat stream. Luckily my wife is getting very tired of Facebook!

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  11. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    I wonder how much of it is just a question of being comfortable with conflict in general. It may be less a matter of “I don’t want to hear opinions I disagree with” and more a matter of “shit, I don’t want to get into a confrontation here, what’s the easiest way out?”

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  12. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    It pays to actually read the report. The report states that 39% of Republicans report learning of different political view via a friends post compared with 49% of Democrats. The report also states:


    “Describing their friends on social networking sites, liberal SNS users are more likely to have friends who regularly discuss politics on SNS than either conservatives or moderates.”

    “We asked those whose friends post political material what they do when they disagree. Some 66% of these SNS users said they usually ignore the material they objected to and 28% said they usually respond with a comment or post of their own. And 5% said it depends on the circumstances.

    Interestingly enough, there were no differences in these responses among party partisans or different ideological groups. All were equally likely to say they usually ignore the posts or respond to them.”

    So Liberals/Democrats are more likely to encounter differing viewpoints with social media friends and are more likely to discuss politics on social media sites. It is no surprise then that the percentage of them that block users for political disagreements is higher. However, when we consider ONLY what people do when they encounter political material they disagree with, the reactions are identical.

    This strongly suggests that the results are biased for factors other than “liberals can’t tolerate other people’s opinions”.

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  13. unaha-closp (1,111 comments) says:

    @Graeme Edgeler

    Q. What do you call someone who is winning and argument with a liberal?

    A. Racist.

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  14. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    We leftists are too busy to do what many right-wingers do… which is to write great diatribes of illegible, grammatically challenged BS hatred and bile every time you see something you don’t like.

    There are only so many hours in the day you know.

    Shift+delete and the f*cknuttery is gone. Simple. Easy. Done. ;-)

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  15. Fletch (6,004 comments) says:

    Yup, it says one in 5 will block you.

    Offensive language or pictures may give sufficient reason to defriend someone on Facebook.

    Now a new study says that political leanings are as well.

    One in five American friends were found to block their friends on social networking sites over a political issue, and the majority of those posts were because the offending friend posted too frequently.

    Reasons given for cutting friends off also included taking a different stance on the issues, arguments over the issues- with either themselves or the user’s more important friends, and concern that their other friends would judge them for being friends with the politically active user.

    In total, 18 per cent of the social network users surveyed by the Pew Internet and American Life Project had blocked friends over political preferences.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2114603/Be-careful-post-politics-online-Americans-block-friends-touchy-issues.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

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  16. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    Oh and before you have a go at leftists for taking this approach, head on over to YouTube and try to correct the misconceptions of someone who is wrong about something. Use only the rational power of your arguments.

    Then come back here and let me know how you got on… :-P

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  17. Leaping Jimmy (15,917 comments) says:

    While there are exceptions such as Ryan above, by and large I’ve found lefties to be extraordinarily precious about their own opinions. They seem to hallucinate that their perspective is the only humane view to adopt and anyone who disagrees is therefore selfish, hard-hearted, not as “advanced” as they are, etc. The latter is why some of them of them call themselves “progressive” FFS.

    toad is a classic case of such a lefty.

    Nor is this limited to blogs. Unfortunately since living in Wgtn I’ve worked with large numbers of lefties – they infest this city, and the more intelligent they are, the more they adopt this perspective in lunchtime conversations. I have a great time, of course.

    Given how tremendously naive most of the lefty positions are on just about everything, such self-righteousness is astounding but nevertheless, it’s as widespread in lefties as an understanding of the importance of adopting individual responsibility is in conservatives. It’s like you have to sit an entry exam to be a proper lefty and if you don’t get at least 90% in the “Do you have a sense of sneering superiority” section, you just don’t get to call yourself a proper lefty. I don;t know why people like Ryan don’t just resign and join the rest of us, that seems the only sensible thing to do.

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  18. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    So, Leaping Jim, you don’t like lefties.
    What I find funny is that you accuse lefties of claiming to be superior while at the same time claiming superiority for conservatives.

    You have to love the irony.

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  19. Peter Freedman (127 comments) says:

    Murray, could you provide a definition of a leftie troll, please?

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  20. Peter Freedman (127 comments) says:

    Leaping Jimmy (great nick BTW) could you provide a list of people who aren’t extraordinarily precious about their own opinions, please?

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  21. Peter Freedman (127 comments) says:

    tom hunter says “Finally, when Reagan died, she sent ……”

    I knew Hoover was a cross dresser, Clinton a male nymphomaniac, and several US Presidents slept with niggers, but are you really trying to make us believe RONALD REAGAN WAS A WOMAN????????????????????

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  22. Elaycee (4,297 comments) says:

    “but are you really trying to make us believe RONALD REAGAN WAS A WOMAN????????????????????”

    Jeez, Peter – comprehension not high on your list of skills, huh? Read the entire comment again. And if you still can’t get it, ask someone to point out the obvious…

    And BTW, I think you may have answered your own question at 11.25pm. :D

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  23. tas (590 comments) says:

    I once commented on one of John Pagani’s blog posts questioning the factual accuracy of the story in a polite manner. He blocked my comment and sent me a series of emails in which he called me a “nasty, fetid stinking little piece of shit” among other things. (To which I responded politely by saying that if he wants to actually refute my point, he should allow the comment and respond in an appropriate manner. He instead continued accusing me of being “morally off course” and full of bile.)

    The only time I ever was unfriended on facebook was when I dared question my Mana supporter friend’s implicit assertion that america had 9/11 coming.

    So these figures definitely agree with my experience. However, I don’t think these statistics stand up to much scrutiny. Maybe conservatives just have fewer friends who might disagree with them.

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  24. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Leaping Jimmy,

    “…anyone who disagrees is… not as “advanced” as they are”

    “…It’s like you have to sit an entry exam to be a proper lefty… in the “Do you have a sense of sneering superiority” section…”

    “…Given how tremendously naive most of the lefty positions are on just about everything, such self-righteousness is astounding…”

    Pot, kettle, black?

    Suffice to say that any rational person must believe their dearly held beliefs to be superior to others, otherwise why would they hold them. The pretense that one doesn’t consider their own political views superior to opposing views is perhaps a reflection of that social attitude that says no beliefs are superior or inferior to any other, they are just “different”.

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  25. geo_kiwi (43 comments) says:

    As someone with hard experience in Yahoo political e-Groups from last decade, I can tell you that socialists and conservatives dead heated when it came to online nastiness, trolling, blocking, and other offensive behaviour. The behaviour has nothing to do with political discourse and everything to do with the fact that on days of their choosing, intelligent people chose to be complete bitches.

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