GOOD

Data Shows that Positive Content Does Better on Social Media

Positive tweets are favorited as much as five times more than negative or neutral ones.

Image via Pixabay user kaboompics

Within minutes of logging onto Facebook and Twitter, users are typically confronted with all manner of content. A good chunk of that content is negative—violent stories, dire political predictions, reports on controversial figures or terrorism—and acts like lighter fluid to a slow burning fire in the way it triggers nasty exchanges. Though it may seem that the varieties of negative content dominate social media, a new data-based study suggests otherwise.


Published September 30 in the PeerJ Computer Science journal, the study reports that positive content spread via social media is shared more often and reaches a larger audience than negative content.

The study’s researchers, Emilio Ferrara​ and Zeyao Yang, took Twitter as their subject, analyzing all public tweets produced during September 2014 that featured URLs or media content (photos, videos, etc.). In total, the two sent 19,766,112 tweets through SentiStrength sentiment analysis (or opinion mining) algorithm, known for its advantages in annotating “short, informal texts, like tweets, that contain abbreviations, slang, and the like,” as well as analyzing emoticons, negations, and booster words like “VERY happy.”

Ferrara and Yang focused their efforts on finding out what effects sentiment (emotion) has on the spread and popularity of social media posts. They then shifted their attention to entire conversations, categorizing them into different classes depending on their evolution over time.

While the researchers found that negative content spreads faster than other content, they also found that Twitter users preferred positive content.

“The positivity bias (or Pollyanna effect) rapidly kicks in when we analyze how many times the tweets become retweeted or favorited,” Ferrara and Yang report. “[I]ndividuals online clearly tend to prefer positive tweets, which are favorited as much as five times more than negative or neutral ones; the same holds true for the amount of retweets collected by positive posts, which is up to 2.5 times more than negative or neutral ones.”

Ferrara and Yang also discovered that in general, highly anticipated events (movies, sports matches, etc.) generate positive reactions, while “unexpected events are often harbingers of negative emotions.” Elections and some sports events, which may trigger “flame wars,” are a couple of exceptions. More transient events, whose durations are very brief, “represent the norm on social media like Twitter and are not characterized by any particular” emotion.

“Recent events, going for tragic episodes of terrorism, to the emergence of pandemics like Ebola, have highlighted once again how central social media are in the timely diffusion of information, yet how dangerous they can be when they are abused or misused to spread misinformation or fear,” Ferrara and Yang conclude. “Our contribution pushes forward previous studies on sentiment and information diffusion and furthers our understanding of how the emotions expressed in a short piece of text might correlated with its spreading in online social ecosystems.”

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health