Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pew Internet News: Search engines; Social networking sites and politics; New featured commentaries

Search Engine Use 2012

search enginesSearch engines remain popular—and users are more satisfied than ever with the quality of search results—but many are anxious about the collection of personal information by search engines and other websites and say they do not like the idea of personalized search results or targeted advertising.

Though they generally do not support targeted search or ads, these users report very positive outcomes when it comes to the quality of information search provides, and more positive than negative experiences using search.

Read more ...

Report: Social networking sites and politics

It turns out that birds of a feather don’t always flock together on social networking sites when it comes to politics. There is evidence in a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that on social networking sites (SNS):

  • Friends disagree with friends about political issues and usually let their disagreements pass without comment. Among the SNS users whose friends post political content, 25% always agree or mostly agree with their friends’ political postings; 73% of these SNS users “only sometimes” agree or never agree with their friends’ political postings. When they disagree with others’ posts, 66% of these SNS users say they usually ignore the posts; 28% said they usually respond with comments or posts of their own; and 5% said it depends on the circumstances.
  • Users can be surprised to learn the political leanings of their friends. Some 38% of SNS users have discovered through a friend’s posts that his/her political beliefs were different than the user thought they were.

As a rule, the most active and engaged political participants on SNS sit at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, yet their experiences around political material on SNS are quite similar. Very liberal users and very conservative users are often the most likely to have acted for and against others on SNS. They are also more likely than others to have been surprised by their friends’ political views and to be in networks where they agree with what their friends post. Still, even with them, there is as much frequency of disagreement as there is of agreement.

Featured commentary: The internet's impact on one man's life

How one man became the chief of a tribe he didn't know existed, thanks to the internet.

An inspiring story recounted to Associate Director for Digital Strategy Susannah Fox from Nell Minow, a movie critic and corporate governance watchdog.

Featured commentary: What's the future for self-tracking?

Do you self-track? Stephen Wolfram predicts that we will all self-track some day, but a Pew Internet survey suggests we have a long way to go. Just 1 in 4 internet users track health data online.

We would love to add more self-tracking questions to our next health survey, such as additional categories or follow-ups to the two questions we asked in 2010. We’ll be in the field in August-September 2012, so please email Susannah Fox with your suggestions.

Pew Internet research in the news

Hopkins researchers aim to uncover which mobile health applications work
Baltimore Sun, March 14

Unfriending Over Politics
The Daily Beast, March 12

Internet privacy a growing concern, Pew finds
SFGate, March 10

Upcoming report:

Be on the lookout for a new report on teens, texting, and smartphones.

Upcoming presentations:

Mobile is the Needle, Social is the Thread: How Information Today is Woven Into Our Lives  » Associate Director for Research Kristen Purcell will share Pew Internet data on the rapid growth of mobile connectivity and social networking in the U.S., focusing on how information consumption patterns are changing in light of these two technological developments, at the annual Radiodays Europe conference in Barcelona, Spain. You can view or download her slides here.

Baby Boomers and Technology » Director Lee Rainie will dicuss how Baby Boomers use technology at the What's Next Boomer Business Summit. He'll explore generational differences in use of the internet and mobile devices and how coming developments in technology might affect their activities and attitudes.

See all presentations »

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The Pew Internet & American Life Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit "fact tank"that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Pew Internet & American Life Project explores the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life. Support for the project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.