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File | Associated Press

Social networking and politics don't mix

It turns out that birds of a feather don't always flock together on social networking sites when it comes to politics.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project on social networking sites shows that friends often disagree about political issues but let those disagreements slide online.

About 38 percent of users said they are surprised that a friends' political beliefs are different than the user thought they were.

In the survey completed in February, the Pew Internet Project found that 80 percent of adults use the Internet and 66 percent of those online Americans use social networking sites. Some 75 percent of social network users say their friends post at least some content related to politics and 37 percent of users post political material at least occasionally.

About 18 percent of social networking site users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone for at least one of the following reasons: posting too frequently about political subjects, posting something about politics that the person disagreed with or found offensive, arguing about politics.

When they shun others based on political content, it is most often a distant friend or acquaintance, rather than a close friend or family member. But roughly a third of those who have ended contact on these sites say a family member or close friend was involved.

At the other end of the scale, 16 percent of social networking users have friended or followed someone because that person shared the user's political views.