The Politics of Disconnection: A Systematic Review of Politically Motivated Unfriending

Qinfeng Zhu


Recent years have seen a surging scholarly interest in disconnective political behaviors on social media, commonly termed “politically motivated unfriending.” This study presents a systematic review of 28 articles (34 studies) on this topic. Through content analysis, it provides a robust synthesis of the trend, contexts, and focuses of the research, the scale and prevalence of politically motivated unfriending, and its antecedents and consequences. Through inductive thematic coding, it identifies 3 recurring themes with regard to the conceptualizations of politically motivated unfriending—it is understood as selective avoidance under the normative framework of the public sphere, self-care following the logic of personal spaces, and a means to create safe spaces within unequal social structures. This systematic review highlights the importance of understanding the political implications of social media through the lens of disconnectivity, demonstrates the democratic paradox of disconnection, and offers recommendations for future research.


politically motivated unfriending, disconnective behaviors, social media, selective avoidance, safe space, systematic review

Full Text: