Facebook's Spiral of Silence and Participation: The Role of Political Expression on Facebook and Partisan Strength in Political Participation

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016 Dec;19(12):696-702. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0137. Epub 2016 Nov 16.


This study investigated how Facebook's spiral of silence influences political participation. For doing so, this study focused on the roles of politically expressive activities on Facebook and individuals' levels of partisan strength. An online survey (N = 277) was conducted with Facebook users. Results showed that a perceived hostile opinion climate on Facebook was negatively associated with political expression on Facebook, which, in turn, was positively related with political participation. This indirect relationship was conditioned by the degree of Facebook users' partisan strength. Those with weak or moderate levels of partisan strength were less likely to express their minority views, which led to decrease their political participation in the real world. Such indirect relationship was not the case for those with high levels of partisan strength. Theoretical and political implications of these findings were discussed.

Keywords: Facebook; partisan strength; political expression; political participation; spiral of silence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Female
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Politics*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Media*
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires