Lifestyle & Belief

Study: Social media users unfriend those with contrary political opinions

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Social media users get touchy about political expression online, a new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found.

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Social media users get uneasy with political discussion online more readily than one might think, a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project has found.

According to the report, 10 percent of social network users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone because that person posted too frequently about political subjects, and 9 percent have blocked someone because they posted something about politics or issues that they disagreed with or found offensive. 

The survey of 2,253 American adults found that because people who post about politics on sites like Facebook and Twitter are either very liberal or very conservative, the posts in question are more likely to be out of line with other people’s views, Slate reported. In fact, one in four users who participated in the study said they "usually" or "always" agree with their friends’ political posts, while 73 percent said they only sometimes or never do.

More from GlobalPost: Women unfriend more, regret less on social media - Facebook, Twitter study

Among the people who've blocked friends as a result of a politically-minded post, nearly 70 percent have done so to a distant friend or acquaintance, according to the study.

"We all have a few of those Facebook friends with whom, after briefly meeting at a conference or dinner party, we perfunctorily became 'friends,'" wrote PBS Media Shift Blogger Mark Hannah. "It wouldn't be a surprise that a disagreeable (or even distasteful) political comment on Facebook might serve as an excuse to shed some of these 'friends' that we marginally knew to begin with." 

However, one out of three people surveyed said they have cut off online contact with a close friend or family member. 

Sometimes, political discussion via social media just catches people off guard:  38 percent of respondents said they were surprised to learn that the political leanings of their online friends were different than they had thought, Daily Beast reported