Deliver Your News to the World

39 Percent of American Public Tuning Out of Social Networks Due to Incivility, According to New Weber Shandwick Survey


NEW YORK - In a new poll released today by Weber Shandwick in partnership with Powell Tate and KRC Research, nearly one-third (34%) of the American public report that they are “tuning out” of social networking sites, with 39% of them attributing their tune-out to rude discourse and behavior. The online survey was conducted in April and asked more than 1,000 Americans how civility affects people’s views of and participation in social media, politics, media and buying behaviors.

“We prefer to communicate through social networks the same way we do in everyday social settings. We tend to congregate around shared interests. We want to know who we’re talking to. And if there is a difference of opinion, we expect respectful dialogue. If not we tune out,” said Weber Shandwick’s President of Digital Communications Chris Perry. “This reality should be top of mind as companies and institutions increasingly operate in social media. It’s a personal medium. Same rules of shared interest, transparency and respectful discourse apply.”

Here are some of the ways that incivility is causing Americans to tune out online:

* 45% have defriended or blocked someone online because of uncivil comments or behavior
* 38% stopped visiting an online site because of its incivility
* 25% dropped out of a fan club or online community because it had become uncivil

Even though discourteous behavior has caused people to tune out of social networks, incivility is less of a deterrent in that regard than in government and politics, opinion pieces and editorials, and news coverage for Americans.

(see graphic:

The survey asked Americans to rate the civility of 18 aspects of daily life. The public rated blogs more uncivil than social networking sites and Twitter (51% vs. 43% vs. 35%, respectively). Despite one-half of the public citing the presence of incivility in blogs, this figure pales next to the much larger 72% who view the political world and government as uncivil – the highest percentage recorded in the poll.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist and online reputation expert, said: “Let’s face it. Incivility can be found everywhere today. Blogs, in particular, are mostly open terrain — practically anyone can comment to a post, often anonymously. On the other hand, social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, are usually tighter communities with little anonymity and greater accountability for who is speaking.”

The survey revealed that there is a high cost to rudeness and inconsiderate behavior. A full three-quarters (75%) of Americans believe that companies that are uncivil should be boycotted. Based on personal experiences of incivility, one half or more of Americans have refrained from buying a company’s products (56%), reevaluated their opinions of a company (55%) or advised friends and family against purchasing their products (49%).

Perry adds, “The fact that three out of four Americans think that companies should be shunned for incivility has tremendous implications for online purchasing behavior and building online advocates. Among the ways companies can succeed online is to build safe and comfortable communities from the ground up. They need to communicate using the ‘voice of the community,’ engage in civil conversation with both naysayers and yea-sayers, and have a clear identity since anonymity breeds incivility.”

(see graphic:

“In today’s society, behavior is critical in setting an example but so is how behavior is communicated. Tone matters as much as what is being said,” remarked Gaines-Ross.

For more information on how to communicate in ways that keep consumers and other audiences buying your products and hearing your messages, please visit Weber Shandwick at or download the executive summary here:

About Powell Tate
Powell Tate is a leading strategic communications and bipartisan public affairs firm. Located in Washington, D.C., the firm specializes in public affairs; public education; reputation and crisis management; media relations; creative and interactive services; and research and advertising. The firm is a division of Weber Shandwick.

KRC Research
KRC Research is a full-service market and opinion research firm that specializes in research to support public relations and marketing communications. We conduct surveys, focus groups, and interviews around the globe to generate insights, test ideas, develop messages, track awareness, and measure success. We also conduct research to attract attention—generating headlines and establishing our clients as thought leaders. Fully integrated with Weber Shandwick, KRC Research offers the quality and custom service of a small firm along with the reach of a global organization. For over 30 years, we have worked on behalf of corporations, governments, not-for-profits and the communications firms that represent them.

About Weber Shandwick
Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations agency with offices in 76 countries around the world. The firm’s success is built on its deep commitment to client service, our people, creativity, collaboration and harnessing the power of Advocates - engaging stakeholders in new and creative ways to build brands and reputation. Weber Shandwick provides strategy and execution across practices such as consumer marketing, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, corporate and crisis management. Its specialized services include digital/social media, advocacy advertising, market research, and corporate responsibility. In 2010, Weber Shandwick was named Global Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report for the second year in a row; an ’Agency of the Decade’ by Advertising Age, Large PR Agency of the Year by Bulldog Reporter, and Top Corporate Responsibility Advisory Firm by CR Magazine. The firm has also won numerous ’best place to work’ awards around the world including “Best Multinational Firm to Work For in EMEA” by The Holmes Report and a “Top Place to Work in PR” by PR News. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit


This news content was configured by WebWire editorial staff. Linking is permitted.

News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.