Anger spreads more quickly online than happiness, according to researchers

Posted on September 23, 2013


Scientists in China have released the results of a study suggesting that internet users are more likely to share negative content than they are positive posts.

The team looked at the emoticons and words posted by the users of Weibo, one of Asia’s biggest social networks, and categorised them into groups labelled joy, sadness, disgust and anger.

After analysing the messages and how they affected other users, the scientists found that angry updates were shared at a faster rate than those in other categories.

Some have challenged the report, however, by suggesting this may be the case due to angry people being more likely to have other angry users on their list of friends.

The team behind the study, which is based at Beijing’s Beihang University, has said the results could provide an insight into the way in which social media users are influenced by their friends and the content appearing on their news feeds.

Ke Xu, who co-authored the report, said to the BBC:

“Users on Weibo tend to repost angry news posted by their friends while deeper explorations still need more investigations.

“We mined the reposted angry messages and found that most of them were related to social problems in China or the diplomatic issues between China and foreign countries.”

With much of the Internet censored in China, Weibo has grown to be one of the most popular channels for the country’s people to discuss social issues and broadcast their views.

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