• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Article

Dividing social networks: Facebook unfriending, unfollowing, and blocking in turbulent political times

It has been argued that by allowing users to unfriend, unfollow, and block political and cultural ‘others,’ Facebook facilitates the discouragement of dialog between those holding different views on political issues. Using a case study of a civil confrontation in Ukraine, the paper analyzes the reasons for unfriending political ‘others’ reported by 699 respondents of a qualitative survey. Its findings are in line with researchers who have also found that the likelihood of selective avoidance is higher among people who are more politically active, emotionally involved, and who have more online friends. The paper also discusses an interesting discovery that has not been previously considered. The respondents often shunned political ‘others’ out of suspicion that they were trolls. As this paper suggests, whether real or imagined, trolling has turned out to be a real force influencing people’s decisions to withdraw from communication on the most important issues of public life.