Is it safe to speak about politics while online?

How safe is it to say whatever you want on the internet about politics? Some people may fear retribution from the government if they are overly critical. Others may fear damaging blowback from their political opponents.

Is political orientation related to how safe people believe it is to say whatever they want about politics online?


  • On this issue, conservatives seem to be somewhat more wary than liberals about speaking online about politics: among the respondents in our Digital Future Survey who identified as being somewhat conservative, 21.2% strongly disagreed that it is safe to say whatever you think about politics online. They were joined in their strong disagreement by 20.3% of those who said they are very conservative.
  • On the other hand, 16.4% of the somewhat liberal, 14.1% of those in the middle-of-the-road, and 11.5% of the very liberal strongly disagreed.
  • Mere disagreement (as opposed to strong disagreement) with the idea that on the internet is it is safe to say whatever you think about politics was registered by 31.6% of the somewhat liberal, 28.7% of the middle-of-the-roaders, 28% of the very liberal, 26.9% of the very conservative, and 24.9% of the somewhat conservative.


  • When we turn the discussion around and look at agreement with the statement that it is safe to say whatever you think about politics online, we see the same association. Liberal respondents are somewhat more likely to agree: 33% of the very liberal agreed with the statement and 15.5% of them strongly agreed. Among the somewhat liberal, 28.4% agreed and 8.9% strongly agreed.
  • On the conservative side, 26.7% of those who identified themselves as somewhat conservative agreed that it is not dangerous to say whatever you want about politics on the internet, and another 7.7% strongly agreed. Among the very conservative, 23.1% agreed and 12.1% strongly agreed.
  • Of those who are middle-of-the-road, 25.6% agreed that there is nothing to fear from saying whatever you want about politics online and another 9.4% strongly agreed.

In sum, liberal are moderately more likely than conservatives to feel safe saying whatever they want about politics online. And, living up to their label, those in the middle of the road, for the most part, fall in between liberals and conservatives.

A larger version of this chart is here.


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January 23, 2018