Majority of social media users in Canada avoid talking politics online for fear it might upset another person: Study

58% of online Canadian adults say they choose not to post a political comment or link on social media because it might upset or offend another person, according to a new report

TORONTO, ON — Conventional wisdom says don’t discuss politics at social gatherings. With the holiday season upon us and a Canadian Federal election on the horizon, taking heed of this wisdom is even more difficult when you add social media into the mix.

According to a new report released today, a majority (58%) of online Canadian adults are choosing not to post politically charged content on social media because it might upset another person. The report from the Social Media Lab, a research lab based out of the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University, says that Canadians are often refraining from sharing, liking or commenting on matters related to politics on social media.

“These findings lent more credence to Canadians’ reputation as a friendly and polite people, even online,” said Anatoliy Gruzd, Director of Research at Toronto Metropolitan’s Social Media Lab.

The study also found that despite concerns of young voter apathy, young Canadians are more purposeful and active posters on social media than older online Canadian adults, as 56% of online Canadians who are between 18-24 years old are sharing their political opinions on social media. In comparison, 43% of all study participants share political opinions on social media.

“Young Canadians are more politically active and intentional in their political uses of social media than their older counterparts,” said Elizabeth Dubois, Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa and the lead co-author on this report. “However, it is still unclear whether this will translate into higher voter turnout among this demographic group in future elections in Canada.”

This report is the third and final report based on a census-balanced survey of 1,500 Canadians using quota sampling by age, gender, and geographical region. The other two reports in this series are: The State of Social Media in Canada 2017 and Social Media Privacy in Canada. It was produced by the Social Media Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab at Ted Rogers School of Management, Toronto Metropolitan University. The lab studies how social media is changing the ways in which people communicate, share information, conduct business and how these changes are impacting our society. The study is co-authored by Elizabeth Dubois at the University of Ottawa, and Anatoliy Gruzd, Philip Mai and Jenna Jacobson at Toronto Metropolitan University.  

The co-authors, Elizabeth Dubois, Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, and Anatoliy Gruzd, Canada Research Chair at Toronto Metropolitan University are available for interviews on this report and other social media related topics.

For interview requests and other media inquiries, please contact:

Philip Mai (in Toronto)
Director of Business and Communications
416-979-5000 ext. 3509
[email protected]

Isabelle Mailloux Pulkinghorn (in Ottawa)
Manager (acting), Media Relations
Cell.: 613-240-0275
[email protected]

For more information, please visit the Social Media Lab website.