With election day creeping closer for Americans, online networking venues are saturated with political rants, debates and promises of expatriation should candidate A win over candidate B. With 51% of social media users posting political content to their Facebook walls, it seems the old saying that religion and politics are off-limits in polite society applied to days before the Internet. Now, Americans take national discussion online which can drive otherwise friendly associates with different views or no concern for politics absolutely crazy.
Personally, I love it. Poor information, outright deceit and apathy twists voters' minds, but debates are opportunities to learn and share. Unfortunately, not everyone handles polite discourse. Often these heated, passionate discussions drive wedges between friends and lovers, especially online. For the apolitical, well-informed and generally exhausted, Facebook is no longer fun.
36% of surveyed social media users admitted changing their opinions of someone based on political content posted to Facebook or Twitter. Other surveys show that 1/5 of social media participants block, defriend or hide friends and loved ones over political posts. Surely we've all seen posts like this: Dear everyone: I don't care about politics, so please shut up. We are all entitled to our opinions, but I'm going to defriend you", or "You vote for Romney, I'll vote for Obama just leave me to my lolcats."
Thankfully, the Internet is here to help. Several handy browser tools can silence those bickering, posturing relatives, buddies, co-workers and otherwise polite strangers without using the unfriend or mute option.
1) The Social Fixer is a handy browser extension compatible with Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. It activates a keyword-based filter allowing you to block specific words like "Romney", "Obama", "Obamney", etc. The settings are navigable once the application is active. One refresh enables the filters! Interested?
is a free Chrome download that neuters your feed by replacing political posts with a photo feed you choose. Want to block Uncle Harry's declaration that a vote for Obamney is a vote for Obamney? Install this and instead watch Kim Kardashian take constant pictures of herself, feed a memebase collection or if you're an Obama supporter, replace conservative posts with his Instagram account. According to the testers at LifeHacker:
The best part? If you want to view a specific post, you can click the "Undo" button to see what that person actually said, so it doesn't hide stuff completely. If your politically ignorant friends are starting to tick you off as the election gets closer, this extension is a must-have.
Unpolitic.me also works on Twitter and is relatively bug-free thanks to the masterminds at Buzzfeed and the creators of the infant-deleter, Unbaby.me.
3) Noppl is short for "No Politics Please", of course. From Tech Crunch:
Noppl is simple and it works. After installation, access the app and enter in the words you want to block. The extension has helpfully pre-filled in some suggestions for you, like “romney, paul ryan, obama, biden, election.” Of course, this setup means that you can also use it to block any unwanted content from Facebook, based on keywords.
Keep in mind these filters can also block baby photos, Farmville, and those daily declarations of bliss from joy/love broadcasters. I live and breathe political discussions, so I've enjoyed fact-exchanging and discussing critical issues online, but I can understand the annoyance for the apolitical or highly sensitive. Will you consider using these tools? Why or why not and what would you block?