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Background

I live and work in a midwestern suburb in the US (a moderate but liberal area). I am a developer but I don't work in anything politics related.

Context

In my spare time, I like to use elections and legislative data (US) to do small analytics projects. I often create maps, charts, etc. and publish them on GitHub and sometimes Twitter (I only use my Twitter to retweet data science related tweets to start with; I'm not a very avid Twitter user).

Usually, I get about 5-10 likes/retweets. Sometimes, I get up to 50-75 likes/retweets. If that happens, I get a few new followers on Twitter, and I also gain a couple GitHub followers so assume some Twitter users also click through to my GitHub and follow me there.

So far, I've had very few but positive interactions with my followers, and I don't think that will change - so it's not a problem. (i.e. my followers are not themselves a problem)

Also note that these are people who chose to follow me - I'm not following them.

Problem

I have noticed that virtually ALL of my followers on GitHub and Twitter are at least liberal-leaning or even call themselves Democrats. While I have definitely become a lot more liberal in the last 4 or 5 years, I am still pretty conservative, and don't consider myself a Democrat.

I am concerned that a current or future employer could notice that most of my followers are liberals and form the conclusion that I am also a liberal. As I work in conservative industries, I could see this negatively impacting my future job prospects.

I don't think it's a huge concern as I am a small-time Twitter user and while I do use GitHub a lot, I'm not famous by any means, so the odds that an employer would check my followers is very low - but it's still possible.

How realistic is my concern that a current or future employer could check my Twitter and GitHub followers?

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    I have worked in the finance sector in Boston and my clients tended to be so conservative that they did not recognize the existence of Twitter and GitHub. – A. I. Breveleri Nov 9 '19 at 18:49
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    @A.I I can understand Twitter but I wasn't aware the platform of GItHub itself had a liberal connotation.. – notmySOaccount Nov 9 '19 at 19:00
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    Oh I've always considered a lender as a species of banker. – A. I. Breveleri Nov 10 '19 at 0:28
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    To international readers (like me): This is a very US-american thing. US politics is dominated by a dualism between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The two are often associated with the general political leanings of "conservative" and "liberal" respectively (even though these terms are very ambiguous). Apparently OP is worried to be seen as "hanging with the wrong crowd". – sleske Nov 11 '19 at 7:46
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    @Kilisi, Correct. There is no true definition of either liberal or conservative. It depends on the context and on the people listening. For example, I would be considered conservative by basically everyone, but my family thinks I'm a liberal because I have post-secondary education. It can be as bizarre and stupid as that. – notmySOaccount Nov 11 '19 at 23:42
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So staying away from political discussions.

How realistic is my concern that a current or future employer could check my Twitter and GitHub followers?

So I don't really know about Github but Twitter could be checked by a future employee. However if you are not posting any extreme controversial things I doubt that people will take the effort of checking who is following you.

Politics has no place in the workplace and as long as people do not out too extreme opinions it is my experience (although that experience does not include the USA) that everyone is happy to keep it that way.

So I dont think it will be a big problem

on a side note:

are at least liberal-leaning or even call themselves Democrats.

Oh no the horror. But seriously, being democrat is not the end of the world, neither is being republican by the way. Stop labeling each other and start talking to each other.

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    Bonus points for the side note. In my experience, greater communication between folks who seem to disagree often reveals many [and important] points of agreement. – Sharpenologist Nov 11 '19 at 15:27
  • I do talk to them, as I wrote in OP "I've had very few but positive interactions with my followers, and I don't think that will change - so it's not a problem. (i.e. my followers are not themselves a problem)" I am not personally bothered that my followers are liberal-leaning, it's ok. – notmySOaccount Nov 11 '19 at 23:45
  • @notmySOaccount I was not referring to your followers but liberals in general. Sharpenologist has perfectly worded what I wanted to say. But as stated it is just a side note. – user180146 Nov 12 '19 at 11:28
  • @user180146 I don't know any liberals. At work, everyone is conservative. My family are all conservatives (at least this is what they identify as; truthfully, some are not conservative at all, they're just bigots who think that conservatism gives cover for their bigotry. But this is a different topic). My church is also very conservative. – notmySOaccount Nov 12 '19 at 23:28
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I would say don't worry about it, especially with Github.

Twitter won't get you noticed in a concerning light unless you yourself start tweeting a bunch of political (or bigoted. Not saying you do, just that it would be noticed) stuff. Your employers are after information about you, not your followers. Unless they all identify with the KKK or something you don't have much to worry about.

As for Github, Github is just plain not a social media network. It's a collaboration and source code sharing platform. If your followers are putting their political stuff on there, chances are the only thing it will reflect is that they don't know how to use the platform.

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I think it's a fair question and I've wondered this myself as a solidly Left person that works in places where Conservative (and libertarian) politics is the norm.

As much as people say politics should never enter the workplace, it actually does, though it's not necessarily overt. The important thing is to get along with the people you work with and that means being tolerant of the fact that others may have utterly different views. This goes in both directions. It helps a lot to recognize that you don't have to be friends with your coworkers to work effectively and pleasantly.

That said, it's impossible to say if the political signaling you put out through social media and/or your casual conversations will silently end up as a "red-flag" on someone's mind. There are people that keep track of these things, and yes, it could limit your career path to the highest levels in that org if your values don't align with the leadership.

But if you're just there to do a job and not join the exec-level... it doesn't matter as long as you're judicious about how you interact.

  • I agree with you and I already avoid saying anything that could flag me as a liberal, even things that should be pretty innocent like which coffee I drink (when people ask, I just answer "too much!" to make it into a joke) or the fact that I previously lived in Canada (for a short time)... even the fact that I have cats can be controversial apparently, apparently cat = liberal or something. – notmySOaccount Nov 11 '19 at 23:55

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