One of the democratic promises of social media relies on the expectation that citizens will be exposed to more diverse sources of information and will consequently be more likely to encounter views that challenge their beliefs and opinions. Still, recent evidence suggests that although social media may increase exposure to difference, citizen also take active steps to reduce the dissonance they encounter by engaging in selective avoidance tactics such as political unfriending and unfollowing. We report the findings from the first comparative study of political unfriending conducted in Asia, which analyzes survey data from two Chinese societies, Hong Kong and Taiwan. We find that political interest, political discussion network size, and political discussion with distant others all predict the likelihood of engaging in selective avoidance on social media. The results also suggest that political interest is a stronger predictor of unfriending in Hong Kong, while social and psychological factors play a more important role in Taiwan.
American Behavioral Scientist, Vol 62, Issue 8, pp. 1097 - 1115