Home Politics Social media and politics: Why young people don’t talk about politics online

Social media and politics: Why young people don’t talk about politics online

Have you ever stopped yourself posting your political views on Facebook, just in case your friends or your boss sees it?

Social media is now the main source of news for young Australians, but we’re still worried about posting our political views online.

That’s according to the latest findings from the Digital News Report: Australia 2018 released today.

The report surveyed 2026 Australians who consume news and found 45 per cent of people were worried that expressing their political views would change the way others saw them.

Between 18-24 year olds, most were concerned that their colleagues and acquaintances would think differently of them based on political views.

Proportion concerned that openly expressing their political views online might change the way others think about them by age.

Digital News Report Australia 2018

Dr Caroline Fisher, co-author of the report, reckons this is because young people know the risks of social media.

“Young people are very aware of the online environment, and especially the negative environment online,” she told Hack.

“It can become a bit combative with trolling, and because they’re aware of this they are cautious.”

Social media should be social

While the report found that 71 per cent of 18-24 year olds rely on social media for their news, they’re actually not that interested in politics.

“Their interest in politics is lower, interest in political news is lower, and their interest in news generally is lower,” Dr Fisher said.

With that lack of interest, it’s not surprising that young people aren’t posting political views online.

It’s not that young people aren’t talking about politics and news at all though. We just tend to be more private about it.

“If people do want to discuss politics and political views, there’s a bit of a shift to messaging apps or closed groups where they feel more safe,” Dr Fisher said.

But how many likes did it get?

Interacting with news on social media is seen as part of the social experience for young Australians.

The study found we’re more likely to engage with news online if our friends and family are, compared with the older generation who are more likely to just read the news because they want to.

Actually, 45 per cent of people under 35 think likes, shares and comments are important social cues when deciding if we want to read something.

“News has a social dimension for young people, they think if my friend liked that, I’ll read it,” Dr Fisher said.

“All of those cues are important to them in making decisions about ‘of my precious time, will I spend it reading this article’.”

But while we’re getting our news from social media, talking about it face-to-face is still the most popular way to share news across all ages.