Polarizing Politics: Study reveals which voters intentionally post on social media to incite a reaction.

Ki James
Ki James
March 11th, 2022

View the following infographic for a breakdown showing which voters are more likely to share political provoking posts:

Internet trolling is now a mainstream and in fact, accessible, form of political discourse. Given its ability to reach a huge global audience in a mere matter of minutes, controversial posts about politics can quickly go viral… Whether it’s an unflattering screenshot from a newsclip; a critique on their fake tan gone wrong, or a word fumble, there are plenty posts about politics constantly circulating online. Some social media users choose to post about politics as a means of informing their audience of what’s going on in the world, however, others post inciting content specifically to bait those with opposing views into arguing on a certain topic. Many internet users have a modern-day human tendency to be attracted to drama – for example: scrolling through the endless stream of strangers arguing in the comments section underneath political Facebook posts… Therefore, political posts on social media are far more likely to go viral if they’re negative.

In fact, a Cambridge University study found that social media posts about opposing politicians are twice as likely to go viral if they’re negative, as compared to if they were more positive in tone. Redact.dev, a unique software that allows you to scan your social media history and automatically remove any contentious posts, conducted a survey of 5,502 social media users who identify as Democrats, Republicans or independents, to find out whether they knowingly post polarizing content about politics with the explicit intention to incite a reaction from other users with opposing views. Surprisingly, and despite frequent accusations from each side over the years, the survey revealed that voters who identify as Democrats (12%), Republicans (11%) or independents (11%), are almost as equally likely to bait each other on social media. These responses varied across states, however. Democrats in Florida, for example, are more than two times as likely to post provocatively than Republicans. Conversely, Republican leaning Montanans will bait more than Democrats in the Treasure state.

Survey of 5,502 voters; March 2022

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