Social Media Becoming a New Hub for Citizen Politics



Civil Engagement in the Digital Age
The Pew Research Centre


The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project measured how Americans participated in political life, particularly through the internet.

Contrary to views that Americans were becoming less interested in politics and civil life, the national survey found nearly 50% of American adults directly took part in a civic group or activity in the previous 12 months.

The survey found there had been a significant jump in the amount of political activity Amercians undertook online, particularly those who used social networking sites to post political news, follow politicians and candidates and/or participate in social media groups focused on political or social issues.

The survey found 34% of adults recently contacted a government official or engaged in a public forum via online methods, compared to 39% offline.

Nearly 40% of adults said they had undertaken political activities on social networking sites.

'In addition, notable shares of SNS (social networking site) users say their activity on the sites has prompted them to learn more about social or political issues and to take action around those issues,' the report states.

It also found that: 'Younger adults are just as likely as older adults to be engaged in many political activities, and are much more likely to be politically active on social networking sites.'

The survey found that while the internet has grown more influential in American political debate and awareness, much of Americans’ day-to-day political conversations still occurred offline.


Thumbnail image: mkhmarketing/Flickr

Aaron Smith

Pew Research Centre

Published Date
April 25, 2013