The real showdown of the 2016 presidential election has been happening online.
In the months leading up to America’s big day at the polls on Tuesday, political arguments have been raging on Facebook. And they often result in the unkindest cut of all — unfriending on Facebook. The biggest social network on the planet has said that the 2016 presidential election alone has generated over 5.3 billion posts, likes, comments and shares, with nearly 110 million Americans participating in the online debate between January and October this year. The most talked about topic worldwide on Facebook in 2016 via words and hashtags was the U.S. presidential election. But it left out one key metric: FacebookFB, +1.28% didn’t say how many people have been unfriended. (A spokesman for Facebook said it did not have data on unfriending.)
‘One little click to unfriend someone can give you so much satisfaction before you even step inside the ballot box.’
And Facebook users can be annoying. “One little click to unfriend someone can give you so much satisfaction before you even step inside the ballot box,” says Christopher Shea, a New York City-based clinical social worker. “It gives you an opportunity to exercise your conviction.” Some 7% of voters report they either lost or ended a friendship because of this year’s presidential race, according to a recent poll of 700 voters with social media accounts carried out by Monmouth University in New Jersey. Democrats are more likely to hit the ‘unfriend’ button: 9% of supporters of the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have done it versus 6% of her Republican rival Donald Trump’s backers, and 3% of other voters. This is not unusual for election season: 7% of voters say they have lost friendships over political campaigns in the past, but more than two-thirds of voters say that this year’s presidential race has brought out the worst in people and most disapprove of the campaign’s harsh rhetoric.
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The 2016 election season has certainly been more brutal and divisive than most in living memory with allegations of corruption and sexual assault dominating the news cycle even more than economic and policy issues, experts say. “It’s probably the most polarizing election that I can recall and it just keeps getting worse, and that bleeds out into our social relationships,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She recommends people unfollow friends and relatives (where you hide a person’s news feed) before unfriending, especially if they’re your in-laws. “But when there’s no redeeming features left in that relationship and you feel it’s bad for your own mental health and getting you down,” she says. “That’s when you know it’s done.”
It’s not just a U.S. phenomenon. Facebook unfriending is a way of making a big statement across the world. “Politically motivated unfriending is a new kind of political gesture,” according to “I Don’t Like You Anymore,” a study published in the December 2015 Journal of Communication; two researchers from Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem polled more than 1,000 Jewish-Israeli Facebook users. Some 16% of users unfriended or unfollowed a Facebook friend during the Israeli-Gaza conflict in 2014. “Unfriending was more prevalent among more ideologically extreme and more politically active Facebook users,” the study found. “Weak ties were most likely to be broken, and respondents mostly unfriended people because they took offense at what they had posted or disagreed with it.”
See More- Source: Market Watch