Right now I’m exploring public deliberation on Facebook through an analysis of members’ writings about California’s Proposition 8. I entered the term “Proposition 8” on Facebook’s search function, analyzing the first 10 pages of wall postings on each of the first 50 groups created (examining only groups with over 25 members). Between the pro and anti-Proposition 8 sites, one clear finding has emerged—the opposition to Prop 8 engages the walls of pro-Prop 8 sites far more than vice versa (e.g. compare the walls of groups like “Repeal CA Proposition 8” with “Vote YES On Proposition 8!”).
Supporters of Prop 8 seldom write on the walls of anti groups. The pro-Prop 8 sites evidence a great deal of clash, however. For anti-Prop 8 advocates, Facebook groups appear to mostly offer spaces for testing and exploring arguments, that is, intra-movement advocacy. Occasionally a supporter of Prop 8 will write on an anti-site wall, but this usually consists of an isolated, inflammatory comment. Anti-Prop 8 advocates largely have to jump onto pro sites in order to engage in argument with the other side. My question is, what do you think explains this phenomenon? My initial thought is that anti-Prop 8 advocates are the ones with an uphill battle here, so they simply need to work harder to overcome the status quo. But that seems a bit surface and inadequate, given the sheer effort that the pro-Prop 8 supporters have put into their campaign. All in all, why is there more engagement by one side rather than the other on Facebook’s wall posts?