Research reveals Australians are shy about expressing political views on social media

  • Written by Caroline Fisher, Assistant Professor in Journalism, University of Canberra

Are you anxious about expressing your political views online? If so, you are not alone. Australians are more worried about this than citizens in many other countries.

According to new research, almost half of Australians are worried about what their friends, family and colleagues will think of them if they express their political views on social media. This is an important contribution to understanding the changing nature of the Australian public sphere and the way citizens moderate their behaviour in different media settings.

The finding is contained in the latest Digital News Report: Australia 2018, released by the University of Canberra today.

The online survey of 2026 Australian news consumers found 41% say they tend to think very carefully about expressing their political beliefs openly on the internet because it could get them in trouble with authorities. 45% worry it could change the way their family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances could think about them.

Research reveals Australians are shy about expressing political views on social media Figure 1: Concern about expression of political views on social media. Digital News Report Australia 2018

This is especially the case among young people. Two-thirds (61%) of 25- to 34-year-olds said they were careful about expressing their political views because this could make colleagues or acquaintances think differently about them. They were also worried about friends and family (58%) and authorities (57%).

Research reveals Australians are shy about expressing political views on social media Figure 2. Proportion concerned that openly expressing their political views online might change the way others think about them by age. Digital News Report Australia 2018

Left-wing-oriented news consumers were also more worried about expressing their views on line than those with a right-wing bent.

Research reveals Australians are shy about expressing political views on social media Figure 3: Political orientation and reluctance to express political views on social media. Digital News Report Australia 2018

The level of worry about this in Australia is also higher than in other countries. Of the 37 countries who participated in the survey, the global average of concern about expressing political views on social media was 38%, compared to 45% in Australia.

Why should this be the case? There are several possible reasons. Australians are early adopters of social media and heavy users of it, especially amongst younger people. Because of this, they understand the online environment and are aware of trolling and how combative it can be. Therefore, they might opt to not reveal their political beliefs to avoid attracting negative responses online.

Read more: Australians born overseas prefer the online world for their news

Their familiarity with social media might also mean they are more careful about managing their reputation in the digital publishing environment. Alternatively, they might simply want to preserve social media for social interaction and not spoil it by engaging in political discussion. It might also simply signal that for many young social media users who have a lower interest in news, they prefer to keep social media “social”, and not a place for political debate.

The report also shows that people who are more worried about expressing their political views tend to choose messaging apps over open social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Those who are worried what colleagues or acquaintances might think are twice as likely to use WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger than those who are not worried.

Internationally, messaging apps are increasingly being seen as a safe place for free expression and sharing news. This was found to be the case in authoritarian countries such as Turkey or Malaysia, where WhatsApp use for news was as high as 30% and 54%, respectively.

While Facebook use for news appears to have slowed in Australia over the past three years (2016: 45%, 2017: 39%, 2018: 41%), other social media and messaging apps have become more popular for news in the past 12 months: YouTube (15-20%), Facebook Messenger (8-11%), Snapchat (2-5%), WhatsApp (7-10%).

For 36% of Australians aged 18- to 24-year-olds, social media platforms are now the main source of news. 72% of news consumers in this age group use their phones to access online news, which is also the main way they access social media.

Overall in Australia, there has been a 6% increase in the use of social media/blogs for news, rising from 48% in 2017 to 54% in 2018. This bucks the international trend of a decline in social media use for news across the majority of other countries in the survey.

In addition to the increase in using social media to access news, there has been a jump in mobile phone use. Almost 60% of Australian news consumers are now using their smartphones to access news. Further, 36% of news consumers say their mobile phone is the main device they use to access news. This is a 6% increase from last year.

Read more: Most young Australians can’t identify fake news online

This is not the case in all parts of the country. The digital divide is affecting how regional Australians access news. News consumers in regional Australia are less likely to use their mobile phones (56%) to access news compared to those in major cities (61%). They are also more likely to rely more on offline platforms, particularly television news, and twice as likely than urban dwellers to rely on local and regional newspapers for news. This suggests internet connectivity may be a factor in accessing news online for people in regional Australia.

Despite the differences between regional and urban parts of the country, Australians are embracing online news at a rapid pace and beginning to leave traditional platforms behind. For the first time, access to online news (82%) has overtaken traditional offline sources (79%). This is a significant shift, one that will be closely monitored in next year’s report.

Digital News Report: Australia is produced by the News & Media Research Centre (N&MRC) at the University of Canberra and is part of a global annual survey of digital news consumption in 37 countries, commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. The survey was conducted by YouGov at the end of January/beginning of February 2018. In Australia, this is the fourth annual survey of its kind produced by the N&MRC.

Authors: Caroline Fisher, Assistant Professor in Journalism, University of Canberra

Read more http://theconversation.com/research-reveals-australians-are-shy-about-expressing-political-views-on-social-media-98012

Australia Today

What sea creature can attack and win over a blue whale?

Wally Franklin, Researcher and co-director of the The Oceania Project, Southern Cross University

Blue whales are the largest creatures to have ever lived on Earth.ShutterstockThis is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky! You might ...

Read more

how leadership instability and revenge became woven into our political fabric

Frank Bongiorno, Professor of History, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-NDBack in 2012, a major study on the selection and removal of party leaders in Anglo parliamentary democracies was published. The book contained a section with the inviting title of “Machiavellian tactics”. Most of the authors’ examples came fro...

Read more

How to move energy policy models beyond bias and vested interests

Shirin Malekpour, Research Leader in Strategic Planning and Futures Studies, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University

Modelling should be a chance to test your assumptions, not just confirm them.ShutterstockThe Turnbull government’s flagship energy plan, the National Energy Guarantee, was intended to end a decade-long stalemate on energy and climate policy in Australia. Ironically, since its unveiling in Octo...

Read more

University staff and students are at high risk of ill health. Here's how to make sure they can cope

Brad Wright, Sessional Academic (Health & Physical Education), Charles Sturt University

Students and staff at universities have many of the same health risk factors, including poor mental health and alcohol consumption.www.shutterstock.comUniversity students are an at-risk population for many health issues. These include mental health, alcohol and substance use, sexual assault and hara...

Read more

What do your earliest childhood memories say about you?

Penny Van Bergen, Senior Lecturer in Educational Psychology, Macquarie University

The experience "this happened to me" is stronger than "this happened" in memory formation. epicharmus/flickr , CC BY-SAWe experience thousands of events across childhood, and yet as adults we recall only a handful. Some might be “firsts” (our first ice cream, our first day at school), or...

Read more

what is loss aversion and is it real?

Brendan Markey-Towler, Researcher, The University of Queensland

You may still feel losing a wallet more than finding it.ShutterstockA recent study claims a core idea in behavioural economics – loss aversion – is a fallacy. Loss aversion is the theory that the pain of losing something is greater than the pleasure we feel by gaining something equivalen...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Guide to Travel Necessities for 2018

Sure, it sounds like quite an adventure to hit an open road with nothing but a one-way ticket and an open mind, but the harsh reality is – you won’t...

Top Sightseeing Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most fascinating locations for anyone to visit in the world. After all, it’s a place with a variety of unique landscapes, but it isn’t...

Must-Pack Items for a Travel Blogging Boss

As a travel blogger, you get to see and explore so many wonderful destinations and meet various interesting people, but before you embark on a new adventure you need to...

Luxury Camping Adventures Around the World

Perhaps in direct response to the dominance of technology in the modern world, many travelers are feeling a strong draw towards nature. While some are able to fully embrace their...

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Top Island Destinations for 2018

When we picture island destinations in our minds, we often imagine a tropical beach of white sand, a sun lounger laid out in the shade of a line of palm...

Why Car Rental Excess Insurance is a Smart Choice

Some car rental agencies include basic damage cover in the standard rental fee, with the option to add on liability reduction, or excess insurance. The addition of excess insurance normally...

More Than a Third of Australians Feel 'Too Busy' With Work to Take a Holiday

New research from InterContinental Hotel & Resorts has unveiled a large number of Australians (32 percent) are simply too busy with work to take some much-needed rest and relaxation. Almost...

Fashion & Beauty

Groom To Do List

Sorry Aussie Men, you no longer just pay for the alcohol, flowers and marriage license. Times have certainly changed. Wedding Expert shares what Australian Grooms are now expected to do before...

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

HEALTH

National Action Plan For Endometriosis Is A Game-Changer For Australian Women

Heba Shaheed, The Pelvic Expert, shares her personal story and expert tips for living with endo... First National Action Plan For Endometriosis Is A Game-Changer For Australian Women   The announcement of the first...

Pre - summer pampering: Australian women are detoxifying themselves in the most “kind-Ly” fashion!

In today’s society we are completely exposed to materials, products and chemicals which we unfortunately have no clue if it’s origins, meaning and purpose. Getting back to basics...

Eye Health Dos and Don'ts

Most people take their eyes for granted and spend little to no time thinking about their eye health until they notice something wrong. This leads to plenty of common and...

Non-invasive Cosmetic Treatments

In a world where everyone is chasing perfection, plastic surgeries have become more and more common to the point where it’s odd if you don’t get one during your life...

My Health Yoga

Carrie-Anne Fields of My Health Yoga has taken her Gold Coast yoga teacher training worldwide. She started her health business 20 years ago aged 22 and has grown into a...

Fit Body 101 - Increase Your Fitness Effectiveness

You have to find some space for physical exercise in your weekly schedule in order to live a good life. Embracing this way of life is very beneficial because it...

LIFE STYLE

Add a little colour to your move - and life!

How a little ‘colour’ and planning can take your Move, and make it a more enjoyable one Colour plays a huge role in our lives, it can take us up, or...

6 Simple Rules for Redesigning Your Kitchen

How do you feel about your kitchen? Well, if you feel like your home needs a bit of lifting up, one of the best and most effective places to start...

Dog Flea Allergy

Severe itchy skin disease in dogs causes Flea bite hypersensitivity. The itch is as a result of an allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea which is injected into...

5 Ways to Turn Your Bedroom into a True Zen Retreat

The bedroom should be our little sanctuary where we come to relax after a long day of work. However, in order to be able to unwind all the accumulated stress...

Things to Consider when Deciding on your Wedding Flowers for the Big Day

Choosing the wedding flowers is a complicated process where you have to take into account many elements, from the wedding dress to the wedding theme. You can discover in this...

Renovating tips for your house

There are very few property owners who move into a house where they don’t want to make any changes. Alterations are almost inevitable every time you move-house, but alterations can...

FOOD & DINING

Morning greens: the breakfast skincare regime

It’s safe to assume that most Aussies fail to eat enough greens. Although this was momentarily resolved with the rise and popularity of the green juice movement, the lack of...

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...