Most people know the social dangers of discussing politics at family gatherings, cocktail parties and the workplace. But the rise of Facebook brings about a tempting – and treacherous – territory to engage in such commentary.
It takes just a few posts to inadvertently damage a friendship, put a rift in family relations, alienate a neighbor or infuriate a colleague, according to this USA Today story by reporter Laura Petrecca.
Mix together a divided country and hot-button political issues and Facebook commentary can become an online landmine. The conventions, as well as debates, have prompted Facebook users to argue over topics such as the economy, foreign policy and female reproductive rights.
Politics is “one of the most polarizing topics discussed on Facebook,” says Ron Schott, a senior strategist at social media marketing agency Spring Creek Group.
How Facebook users think of the site is much different now than during the election race four years ago, says Laura Simpson, global director of McCann Truth Central, the research unit of the McCann Erickson ad agency. In September, McCann Truth Central conducted focus groups and an online survey of 1,000 Americans on topics such as how technology and social media can play a role in politics.
“Facebook is evolving into more of a debate space for issues,” she says. “Before, it was a much more personal record, or archive, of your social life. Now, there are (updates about) weddings and babies, but you’ll also see political views and videos about topics that people feel passionate about.” And with that shift, users are more apt to jump into controversial conversations, Simpson says.
What’s your take? Are Facebook, and other social media, enhancing or taking away from building strong family relationships and other friendships?
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