Facebook May Be Able To Change Political Opinions

Photo: Mint Images/REX Shutterstock.
We get it. You log onto Facebook and within seconds, you're confronted by posts espousing views you don't endorse or taking aim at political measures you hold dear. Maybe you write a comment stating your viewpoint. Maybe you hide them from your feed. Maybe you just delete them entirely.

According to research published in Social Media Studies, these interactions might have some value beyond frustration and Facebook rage. Dr. Jayeon Lee of Lehigh University and Dr. Teresa A. Myers of George Mason University analyzed internet habits and their effects, looking at the link between exposure to opposing political views on social networking sites and opinion change. Their conclusion: Coming across different viewpoints can sway a person's opinion.

"If the person stumbles into a cross-cutting political discussion while using SNS [social networking sites], he or she has a high possibility of experiencing political view change or increased issue involvement," the researchers explained. "Likewise, even without cross-cutting discussion, if an SNS user is motivated for information, he or she is likely to experience political view change or issue involvement."

Perhaps being exposed to one another's opposing opinions, however frustrating, isn't such a bad thing. Maybe knowing someone with those opinions humanizes that particular stance — or maybe debate is simply a healthy habit we should all encourage.
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