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Measuring social response to different journalistic techniques on Facebook

Schmidt, Ana L., Peruzzi, Antonio, Scala, Antonio, Cinelli, Matteo, Pomerantsev, Peter, Applebaum, Anne, Gaston, Sophia, Fusi, Nicole, Peterson, Zachary, Severgnini, Giuseppe, De Cesco, Andrea F., Casati, Davide, Novak, Petra Kralj, Stanley, H. Eugene, Zollo, Fabiana and Quattrociocchi, Walter (2020) Measuring social response to different journalistic techniques on Facebook. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 7 (1). ISSN 2662-9992

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Identification Number: 10.1057/s41599-020-0507-3


Recent studies have shown that online users tend to select information that adheres to their system of beliefs, ignore information that does not, and join groups that share a common narrative. This information environment can elicit tribalism instead of informed debate, especially when issues are controversial. Algorithmic solutions, fact-checking initiatives, and many other approaches have shown limitations in dealing with this phenomenon, and heated debate and polarization still play a pivotal role in online social dynamics (e.g. traditional vs. anti-establishment polarization). To understand the effect of different communication strategies able to smooth polarization, in this paper, together with Corriere della Sera, a major Italian news outlet, we measure the social response of users to different types of news framing. We analyse users’ reactions to 113 ad-hoc articles published on the newspaper’s Facebook page and the corresponding news articles on the topic of migration, published from March to December 2018. We examine different journalistic techniques and content types by analyzing their impact on user comments in terms of toxicity, criticism of the newspaper, and stance concerning migration. We find that visual pieces and factual news reports elicit the highest level of trust in the media source, while opinion pieces and editorials are more likely to be criticized. We also notice that data-driven pieces elicit an extremely low level of trust in the news source. Furthermore, coherently with the echo chambers behaviour, we find social conformity strongly affecting the commenting behaviour of users on Facebook.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Institute of Global Affairs
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Date Deposited: 25 May 2022 13:57
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 04:24

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