Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms did not provide new outlets for the discussion of the Snowden-NSA revelations. People who thought their social media friends disagreed with them were less likely to discuss the issues in person and online.
Well, the conclusions are very similar to what some of my students reported last year. Interesting study. Excerpt.
"The survey did not directly explore why people might remain silent if they felt that their opinions were in the minority. The traditional view of the spiral of silence is that people choose not to speak out for fear of isolation. Other Pew Research studies have found that it is common for social media users to be mistaken about their friends’ beliefs and to be surprised once they discover their friends’ actual views via social media. Thus, it might be the case that people do not want to disclose their minority views for fear of disappointing their friends, getting into fruitless arguments, or losing them entirely. Some people may prefer not to share their views on social media because their posts persist and can be found later—perhaps by prospective employers or others with high status. As to why the absence of agreement on social media platforms spills over into a spiral of silence in physical settings, we speculate that social media users may have witnessed those with minority opinions experiencing ostracism, ridicule or bullying online, and that this might increase the perceived risk of opinion sharing in other settings."
"There are limits to what this snapshot can tell us about how social media use is related to the ways Americans discuss important political issues. This study focuses on one specific public affairs issue that was of interest to most Americans: the Snowden-NSA revelations. It is not an exhaustive review of all public policy issues and the way they are discussed in social media."