The Current

Unfriending on Facebook over politics forms movement, but shuts down dialogue

There are now a few Apps that can alert you to Facebook Friends who favour politics you abhor. And in Germany it has caused a flurry of Unfriending in a disagreement over the treatment of foreigners and immigrants that has jumped off computer screens and into the streets....
There are now a few Apps that can alert you to Facebook Friends who favour politics you abhor. And in Germany it has caused a flurry of Unfriending in a disagreement over the treatment of foreigners and immigrants that has jumped off computer screens and into the streets.


Who hasn't been irritated by the inane postings of some so-called "friend"? But there's irritation, and then there's anger and outright disagreement.... especially when it comes to politics.

That's what's happening in Germany right now. A growing online movement is asking people to "unfriend" users who express what they consider to be unpopular political views.

It was spawned by the rise of the group known as the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West -- or Pegida for short. Pegida was formed last fall and has rapidly gained a following on the country's far-right by holding anti-immigration demonstrations across the country. The group has cancelled plans for a demonstration in Dresden today after threats against a member of the organizing body.

But Pegida has sparked a counter-protest online, where everyday Germans are urging their networks to unfriend anyone they know who has associated with, or "liked" the Pegida group.

So, can campaigns like this have an impact? Or do they simply shut out meaningful online politcal dialogue?

Marina Weisband is a politics teacher and the former Chair of the German Pirate Party. We reached her in Munster, Germany.

Unfriending someone in your online life means you'll never hear from them again... at least not inside your social news feed. But if you do it because of that person's politics, is the act of unliking truly an act of meaningful protest... or just a way of shutting out views you don't want to hear?

Michael Xenos has studied the way young people especially engage politically on social media. He's a professor of Communications Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Have you ever "unfriended" someone over politics? Or will you now?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Catherine Kalbfleisch.

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