Researchers at Beihang University analyzed 70 million “tweets” from the Chinese social networking site called Weibo.
It was determined that over a 6 month period, anger was the emotion most likely to spread throughout the social media site, having a ripple effect that could inspire enraged posts within 3 degrees of separation from the originating poster.
In the study entitled, “Anger is More Influential than Joy: Sentiment Correlation in Weibo” showed that one angry poster could cause a flood of angry posts.
Researchers mapped the “tweets” and placed them into categories according to emoticons: anger, joy, sadness and disgust.
The spread of joyful and disgusted “tweets” on Weibo were “trivial”; however anger spread like wildfire.
According to the study: “Our results show that anger is more influential than other emotions like joy, which indicates that the angry tweets can spread quickly and broadly in the network. While out of our expectation, the correlation of sadness is low.”
It is assumed that this study would be reflective of the Weibo community, which is made up of citizens of China and therefore reflective of their culture and not indicative of other similar sites, such as Twitter.
Although it is widely known that one person can influence the masses’ behavior, strong dependence on social media is liken to the same phenomenon to those observed on real life.
Like an infectious disease, a social meme can shift the general public’s consciousness and thereby causing societal constructs to change as well.
This study is perfectly timed to compliment the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) who issued a statement regarding their new policy on punishing online bloggers and deterring new ones from replacing them on the internet. MORE