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Heated political comments can bring end to online friendships


debate Credit: GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney at Florida debate Jan. 26. (Getty Images)

While politics at the dinner table is considered a taboo subject, yapping about it on social media carries a different sort of consequence -- getting "unfriended."

And it's not a far-fetched reason to get dropped: 14% of the 1,865 Americans recently polled by NM Incite, a social-media tracking firm, said they would remove a Facebook friend over political comments.

That's surprisingly higher than the 11% who said they'd unfriend someone because of a breakup or divorce. Meanwhile, most folks -- 55% -- said they'd unfriend someone who writes "offensive" remarks.

The idea of severing Facebook or Twitter ties because of politics may seem like an extreme measure, but doesn't surprise Eric Yaverbaum, associate publisher of FB & Business magazine.

"Making a strong political statement can lose you half your friends in the room," Yaverbaum said. "So if I have an opinion and don't have to look you in the eye, it's a lot easier to say it [online], and keep saying it."

Going the extra step of nixing someone from your social-media circle, however, “seems like an awful lot of effort,” he added.

But with another GOP primary showdown Tuesday in Florida and a presidential election in November, the onslaught of opinions is giving some users politics fatigue.

"I hate to say no one should ever post something about politics on Facebook, but I've seen people jump on one comment and have outrageous arguments, whether it's on abortion or gay marriage," said Alexa Breslin, 24, who's abandoned "friends" with extreme positions. "It's too much."

Christina Marenson, 27, said that politics is better discussed in person, whereas online, "thoughts can get misinterpreted."

"People have the right to freedom of expression, but that doesn't mean I have to read about every waking moment of their day," griped Marenson, of Fort Greene. "That's the beauty of the 'unsubscribe' button [on Facebook]."

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