Social media is expected to play a significant role in November’s U.S. presidential election, and a new study from Pew Internet has revealed the extent to which politically-minded users are engaged with channels such as Twitter and Facebook, and how importantly they rate them.
Pew have documented their findings in their Politics On Social Networking Sites report, which was published earlier today.
The survey revealed that less than a majority of users believe that social networking sites are important for a variety of political activities.
- 36% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news.
- 26% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.
- 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them for debating or discussing political issues with others.
- 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.
While still less than a majority, democrats are overwhelmingly more likely than Republicans and independents to believe that social networking sites are important for political activities.
Also of note: black users are significantly more likely than whites to feel that social networking sites are important for political activities. Also, younger users (18-29) are more likely than older users to feel that social networking has political relevance.
The study also revealed that the amount of political material being posted to social channels is still relatively small – 84 percent of respondents said that they have posted little or no political content in their recent status updates, comments and links, and only 6 percent of users say that most of what they have posted lately is related to political issues.
Moreover, 59 percent of SNS users say that their friends have posted little or no political content of late, with just 9 percent saying that what their friends post to these platforms is predominately political. However, the study concluded that individuals who are the most politically engaged get more from social networking and feel the impact more (than other users).
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