Study: Liberals Most Likely to 'Unfriend' Over Political Disagreements

Liberals are about twice as likely as conservatives or moderates to block, unfriend or hide someone on a social networking site, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+, according to a new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Among all social networking site users, 18 percent have taken steps to avoid or remove content from someone in their social network due to political content. Among self-described liberals, 28 percent reported taking these steps. Only 16 percent of conservatives and 14 percent of moderates have taken steps to avoid the content of users over political issues.

In particular, the survey asked social networking site users if they have ever blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because they:

  • "Posted too frequently about politics or political issues."
  • "Posted something about politics or political issues that you disagreed with or found offensive."
  • "Argued about political issues on the site with you or someone you know."
  • "Disagreed with something you posted about politics or political issues."
  • "Posted something related to politics or political issues that you worried would offend your other friends or people who follow you."

Besides being most likely to have blocked, unfriended or hid someone for any of those reasons, liberals also scored the highest for each of those reasons.

The most common reason that liberals blocked, unfriended or hid someone was because they posted something that the respondent disagreed with (16 percent of liberals, eight percent of conservatives and six percent of moderates), and because they posted too frequently about politics (14 percent of liberals, nine percent of conservatives and eight percent of moderates).

The largest difference between liberals and conservatives or moderates was among those who blocked, unfriended or hid someone because they posted something the respondent disagreed with or because they disagreed with something that the respondent posted (11 percent of liberals, four percent of conservatives and one percent of moderates).

Those who got blocked, unfriended or hid were most likely (67 percent) to be a distant friend or acquaintance. Family members were the least likely (18 percent) to be among those who got blocked, unfriended or hid over political disputes.

The survey of 2,253 adults in the United States was conducted from Jan. 20 to Feb. 19. The margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points.

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