The Politics of Facebook

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Whoo-hoo!  It’s election season and the countdown until Super Tuesday is on! Only now instead of just sucking up our political coverage from the nightly news or morning paper, we are bombarded by posturing, heated arguments, and links we may consider offensive to our intelligence and/or core beliefs every time we scroll through our Facebook feed. It doesn’t matter if you hang to the left, to the right, or dangle somewhere in-between: the comments grow uglier as tolerance wears to snapping point.

What do you think about political wars being waged on Facebook?

Opinions are like assholes—we all have them. Social medial platforms are all about expressing your opinions and freedom of speech. Whether it’s an “Look at my cute kid” or “Look at your stupid candidate,” the reason we post anything—photos, memes, links, or status updates—is to share our opinions, our news, and our beliefs.

But some people believe others are crossing that tenuous line, that friends and relatives may be sharing opinions that are spawned from hate or anger opposed to a desire to educate others about political topics. Some can be misconstrued as racist, misogynistic, or homophobic—or worse, perhaps they are NOT misconstrued.

Others comment that it’s not the fact that others are stating their opinions, it’s the name calling, the vehemence, and the statements that anyone who does not share the same beliefs is an idiot.  And while many may think this, is Facebook an appropriate venue to state this?

Political posts/links/rants are not going to sway anyone who is set on Candidate A to vote for Candidate B. Period. If someone always votes for one party no matter what, nothing we say or post is going to do anything except annoy them or get them riled up to post about why their side is “right.”

 But perhaps you also have friends who are swing voters, who {gasp} don’t follow politics, don’t vote, and have no real concept of why any of this “political stuff” matters to them. Their only source of news is . .  Facebook. Yes, it’s true. Some of us feel obligated to educate them, to explain why it matters, and how Candidate X will improved their lives/destroy every value they believe in. But do they even pay attention? Should they?

What if you feel like you’ll have to skip Thanksgiving if you have to listen to one more of Uncle Harry’s political rants? Do you ignore him? Do you unfriend him? Block him?

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What can you do to avoid the political noise:

Hide offenders. Hover over the Friends button at the top of a friend’s timeline and select Show in News Feed to turn their updates on or off. You can also select Settings to control how many and what kinds of stories you see from them.

Hide a person or a type of story (ex: quizzes or games)
Hover over the top-right menu of a story, click the drop-down menu and choose what you’d like to hide:

  • Hide story will remove the story you’re looking at from your news feed
  • Hide all by and Unsubscribe from will remove the story you’re looking at from your news feed, as well as all future news feed stories from a person, Page, group, event or app
  • Report story or spam will remove the story you’re looking at from your news feed and help keep your news feed clear of stories like it in the future

If you accidentally hide something you want to see, click the Unhide link.

Install Social Fixer. This nifty plug in allows you to filter out any annoying status updates.  Lifehacker has an excellent quick tutorial on how to get rid of any status updates involving any range of keywords {ex: debate, Romney, Obama, election}. While it doesn’t block photos, with a little maneuvering you can block those infinitely annoying Clint Eastwood links. {You can also use it to block sports/baby posts—the possibilities are endless!}

Unfriend. This is the measure of last resort. Before you hit that button take a moment to think if the relationship should just go on a temporary hiatus or if it should be severed like a rotting limb.

Do you tolerate political posts? Do you look at both sides and/or see them as a method of educating yourself about the issues? Have you taken any action to avoid them?

11 thoughts on “The Politics of Facebook

  1. Olga

    I agree completely. I enjoy Facebook because it helps me keep up with pictures of my friends and their kids. I also enjoy it because it directs me to interesting, informative, witty, and enlightening articles that my friends might share.

    I don't, however, enjoy Facebook for the occasional political lesson or a rant. I feel like political discussions are best left for dinner parties, when you can pair them with a good drink and a good laugh afterward.
    My recent post Good Night Moon, Hello YouTube

  2. annie

    we are living without a TV right now until our remodel is complete so I get all of my political news on fb. I am not proud of this fact, but I can usually tell what just happened with a quick scroll through the feed. I just stay out of it.

  3. misssrobin

    I wouldn't say I hate them. If they are civil then they are just an annoyance. People who constantly post politics will get hidden by me — whether they're on my side of the political spectrum or not. If they are uncivil then I can't stand them. I generally hide post by post. But if someone is a serial offender I just completely hide them. Sometimes I even forget they are my facebook friend. And I'm okay with that.

    Happy Sharefest. Fun post. Have a great weekend.
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