Blacks More Likely Than Whites to See–and Post–Race-Related Content on Social Media

Monica Anderson and Paul Hitlin, Pew Research Center, August 15, 2016

Social networking sites are often used to discuss social and cultural issues, and a substantial majority of social media users–white, black and Hispanic–report they encounter content on these platforms about race or race relations. But the amount of race-related content users report seeing on social media varies considerably across racial and ethnic groups, with blacks being especially likely to see content that pertains to race on these platforms.

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Fully 68% of black social media users say that at least some the posts they see on social networking sites are about race or race relations, including 24% who say this describes most of the content they see on social media.

Whites are significantly less likely to encounter race-related content on social networking sites. Among whites who use social media, roughly a third say most (6%) or some (29%) of the content they see on social media is about race or relations. An additional 48% say only a few of the posts they see are about race or race relations, and 16% say none of what they see relates to these topics.

Hispanics fall between these two groups: 54% say that at least some of the posts they see are about race or race relations, while 44% report seeing only a few or no posts on the topic.

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Overall, four-in-ten social media users indicate that at least a few of the posts they personally share on social media are about race or race relations. A relatively small share of social media users, however, say that most (2%) or some (11%) of the things they post are race-related. Indeed, a majority of social media users–60%–report that none of their social media postings pertain to race.

But black social media users are more likely than whites or Hispanics to use social media to discuss race. Some 28% of black social media users say at least some of the things they share or post on social networking sites are about race or race relations, including 8% who say this applies to most of their posts.

Among Hispanic social media users, one-in-five say most or some of their social media posts are about race or race relations.

In contrast, only 8% of white social media users say that at least some of things they share or post are about race or relations. In fact, a majority of white users (67%) say they never post or share things about race, while an additional 24% say race is the focus of only a few of their own posts.

It is worth noting that significant shares of black and Hispanic social media users also report that many of their own posts do not pertain to race: 42% of black social media users and 49% of Hispanic social media users say that none of what they share or post on social networking sites is about race or race relations.

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