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Pew: Social Networks Grow As Political Hot Spots

More than a third of American adults (39%) engaged in political activity via a social networking site, according to a summer 2012 study from the Pew Research Center, but they still prefer the water cooler to the virtual kind for discussing politics.

In 2012, according to the study, 17% of adults posted links to political stories on social networks. That is almost six times the number (3%) who posted political stories or links on social networking sites in 2008.

The 39% who are politically active on social networks tend to be highly active in other areas of political or civic life. Sixty-three percent of those politically active users
also engage in other poltical activity including attending meetings or working with others to solve a community problem (the national average is 48%). Sixty percent have expressed their opinion about a political or social issue via e-mails or online petitions versus a national average of 34%.

But for all that online activity, Americans are three times as likely to talk politics via offline channels, like face-to-face or on the phone, as they are over the 'net.

The phone survey is of a nationally representative sample of 2,253 adults 18-plus conducted July 16-August 7, 2012. Margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.