Every four years Facebook becomes a battleground, where “friends” get into heated arguments over politics.
Millions of people, it seems, believe the rest of the world needs to know their political opinions, and they often express them as though they were auditioning to host a talk show.
Facebook apparently believes there isn't enough political give-and-take on its pages, so it has introduced a new feature that encourages users to endorse a political candidate.
It works like this: a user goes to the Facebook page of their favored candidate. There, he or she selects the “Endorsement” tab, and then selects “Endorse.” A user can also post a comment to go along with the endorsement.
Facebook has built into the endorsement feature a way to limit who can see your endorsement, but that assumes you know the political leanings of all your Facebook friends. Most likely it's designed to keep peace between friends and family members who are known to hold strong opposite political views.
But one has to wonder whether such an endorsement feature is necessary, since people posting on Facebook are rarely shy about sharing their views. And in years past it has damaged friendships, and even family relationships.
As recently as August, Politico reported that the presidential campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was wrecking friendships. Democratic consultant Brent Blackaby told the site that when Trump suggested “Second Amendment people” might stop Clinton, he broke ties with his Trump-backing uncle. Before it was over, he said the arguments and name-calling spilled over to his extended family.
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An anonymous poster on Slashdot appealed to Facebook users to do everyone a favor and keep their opinions to themselves, claiming spouting off for one candidate or against another is pointless.
“Those long rants about how Trump is a bully and a buffoon, Hillary is a crook, and conspiring against Bernie Sanders has doomed America forever aren't changing voters' minds,” the poster wrote. “A staggering 94% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats, and 85% of independents on Facebook say they have never been swayed by a political post, according to Rantic, a firm that sells social media followers.”
So why do we do it? Would we say the things we post on Facebook to someone's face? Probably not. The safe distance afforded by the internet likely makes us bolder, which is not always a good thing.
So one as to wonder what Facebook was thinking by introducing its new political endorsement feature. In the meantime, people sick of looking at their politics-riddled Facebook pages might want to check out this Facebook group, a refuge for people who want to escape politics.