Social media users likelier to shirk from discussing important issues offline
A new study has revealed that people who use Facebook and Twitter are less likely than others to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline.
According to the study by the Pew Research Center and Rutgers University in New Jersey, sites like Facebook and Twitter might actually encourage self-censorship and there is a "spiral of silence" phenomenon: Unless people know their audience agrees, they are likely to shy away from discussing anything controversial, Stuff.co.nz reported.
Keith Hampton, a communications professor at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study, said that people do not tend to be using social media for this type of important political discussion. And if anything, it may actually be removing conversation from the public sphere.
Of the 1801 adults surveyed, 86 per cent they would be willing to discuss their views about government surveillance if it came up at various in-person scenarios, such as at a public meeting, at work or at a restaurant with friends. But just 42 per cent of Facebook or Twitter users said they would be willing to post online about it.
The study also found that the typical Facebook user - someone who logs onto the site a few times per day - was actually half as likely to discuss the Snowden case at a public meeting as a non-Facebook user, while someone who goes on Twitter a few times per day was one-quarter as likely to share opinions in the workplace compared with those who never use Twitter and only when a person felt that their Facebook network agreed with their opinion were they twice as likely to join a site discussion on the issue.
(Posted on 28-08-2014)