Arguing Politics on Facebook

“In modern politics, even the leader of the free world needs help from the sultan of Facebookistan.” ― Rebecca MacKinnon

Rebecca A. Hayes, Andrew Smock, and Caleb T. Carr published, “Face[book] Management: Self-Presentation of Political Views on Social Media” in the 66th volume of Communication Studies, November-December 2015.

Why the study? During the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, SNS (social network sites) had little if any effect on political communication or the election outcome. However, by 2012’s election cycle, SNS political communication was firmly embedded in the process, both promoting political discussion and increasing participation. The authors argue that the frequent tension between political disclosure on Facebook and maintaining friends on the site leads many users to employ face management.

“The management of political communication warrants study as it results in selective political exposure, potentially homogenizing an otherwise politically heterogeneous environment. The popularity and growing diversity of Facebook, combined with the availability of tools allowing users to filter the content they are exposed to and to limit which members of their network may view their shared content, make it an ideal setting to study self-censorship and the management of political communication.”

Research questions that guide the study:

How are users managing their disclosure of and exposure to political activity on Facebook?

What personal characteristics distinguish someone highly engaged in political Facebook management behavior? Continue reading

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