Politics on Facebook May Have Unintended Consequences

SDSU political lecturer Wendy Patrick says political rants could actually work against you and your candidate

Could posting about politics be harming your Facebook friendships or even your political interests?

Lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann says it doesn’t do a lot of good to provoke people on Facebook.

“You should only make political statements on Facebook if you are making those statements within the same group of people who share your thoughts and your ideas. Other than that, I think some conversations are better left at home or among friends who share the same views,” Swann tells NBC 7.

“Facebook is definitely the new water cooler and if you really are passionate about what you’re doing and you really want people to hear your voice, then get out of your house and from behind the computer and share and share in a more conductive way. I think sometimes people forget that not everyone on Facebook shares their views and so people are getting a little bit offensive at this point in time.”

She says our online posts can have real world consequences long after the dust from the presidential election has settled.

“As we continue to go further into our political season, you’ll see that people will have more of an opinion, but we have to make sure that we’re not offending everyone along the way, because after this is all said and done you want to at least have a few friends left over, and not just those kind of fake Facebook friends, but the ones you really want to have relationships with,” Swann says.

She says people tend to have two personalities: one when they are in social situations or at work where they behave “accordingly,” and another when they are behind the computer and they feel very “brave.”

“This is the person that can be very, very dangerous. My advice is…if you won’t do it or say it in person, then don’t do it or say it online,” she says.

SDSU political lecturer Wendy Patrick says your rants could actually be working against you and your candidate - sending undecided voters in the opposite direction because people don't like to be told what to do.

"One of the phenomena we see on Facebook,” Patrick tells NBC 7, "is the idea that people will change your mind by a post about who you're going to vote for president. You wont." 

“Before you hit post, do a self-check and apply what I call my three core values of etiquette, which is respect, honesty, and consideration, and if you have veered off the path of anyone of those and entered into crazy land then maybe you should rethink about hitting that post,” Swann advises.

Some people NBC 7 interviewed say they've given up on Facebook until after the election, others say they've taken advantage of unfollowing certain friends, which allows you to stay connected, but you just won't see their posts anymore.

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