Go Ahead and Post That Liberal Rant on Facebook. You Might Change Someone’s Mind

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 5 2012 5:55 PM

Go Ahead and Post That Liberal Rant on Facebook. You Might Change Someone’s Mind

pewinternetsurvey1
Source: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project January 20-February 19, 2012 tracking survey.

Courtesy of Pew Internet & American Life Project

Thinking of posting a status update to let all your Facebook friends to know where you stand on the latest controversy over tax policy or immigration?

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

Conventional wisdom: For the love of God, don’t!

Advertisement

New thinking: Hey, that’s not a bad idea—especially if you’re a Democrat.

That, at any rate, is one possible takeaway from a new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey of 2,253 U.S. adults found that nearly half of Democrats who use social networking sites say those sites are important to them in keeping up with political news. About one in three Republican social-network users say the same.

Here’s the shocker: A few people even report changing their minds about an issue based on their friends’ political posts. They’re in the minority, to be sure: just 16 percent overall. Among self-described liberals, though, that number rises to 24 percent. And 39 percent of liberals say that political posts have motivated them to get more involved in an issue. (The figure is 24 percent for conservatives and 21 percent for moderates.)

Take that, cynical Facebook-meme purveyors.

Of course, your posts might also motivate people to reconsider being friends with you. But Pew finds that just 18 percent of social-network users have blocked, hidden, or unfriended people out of exasperation at their political screeds. And nearly as many report adding someone as a friend based on his or her political updates. So for every friend you’re alienating, you might be making a new one. (Disclaimer: New Facebook friends may not fully replace old friends in your offline life—especially if said old friends happen to be family members or your boss.)

One irony: While liberals are far more likely to be influenced by political posts, it’s the “very conservative” who are most likely to report that virtually everything they post is political. Apparently everyone just tunes them out.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?