How Social Media Silences Debate

Our assignment for the coming week is for students to do a “social media audit” of themselves. It’s designed to support our Course Goal #3: Develop skills for reflection, growth and professional networking. That goal encourages students to hone their social media skills and build a professional learning network. (PLN)

So this just released study by the Pew Research Center should add to our upcoming class discussion. Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’ finds that when using the controversial Snowden-NSA case as a prompt:

Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, has the effect of tamping down diversity of opinion and stifling debate about public affairs. It makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they think their views differ from those of their friends, … those who use social media regularly are more reluctant to express dissenting views in the offline world. NY Times

Ironically, this report has sparked a lively discussion on Twitter: follow the hashtag #spiralofsilence.

If the topic of the government surveillance programs came up in these settings, how willing would you be to join in the conversation?