Why Do Some Shout and Others Stay Silent? Communication Context Consistency in Political Discourse Offline and on Facebook

Carrie Anne Platt, Don Waisanen, Jose Marichal


Through an open-ended survey of 206 U.S. adults, we investigate how communication context (offline and on Facebook) informs one’s willingness to share political opinions. We develop an analytical approach for examining how the stability of or shifts between offline and online messages can provide insights into the discourse environments of social media platforms. Our study uses qualitative analysis to identify and explore (1) self-censorship types, (2) conditions, and (3) tactics specific to online and offline contexts. Our approach helps explain both polarization and self-censorship in political conversations on Facebook. More so, it can provide a way to operationalize and evaluate the environments for political discourse on social media platforms in general.


Facebook, political discourse, polarization, self-censorship, context collapse, social media

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