Exploring behavior on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election
This research explores behaviors on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election. Rooted in selective exposure theory, the study builds on established quantitative research. Prior research has shown social media users are unfollowing, unfriending and blocking other users and content with which they do not agree. This research builds on the missing qualitative element -- why do users engage in these behaviors? Sixteen participants were recruited for this study. Participants were asked a series of semi-structured questions to better understand their behaviors on Facebook in the months leading up to, during and directly after the election. Overall, the researcher found this was a time of "pruning" friends from social media. Most selective exposure was not due to disagreements about candidates or policy, but due to differences in personal values. Users also indicated a hierarchy of selective behavior, as well as a set of online behavioral norms which guided their decision making. Ultimately, the researcher found that many respondents wanted to spend their time on Facebook in a leisurely way, rather than engaged in political debates.
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