Social media promotions such as “like” and sharing posts cause users to show more anger in their posts over time to get more attention.
According to a new study from Yale University, social networking platforms such as Twitter increase users’ expression of “moral anger” over time; Because they are taught mechanisms such as liking and sharing posts, they are rewarded by expressing such anger that comes from observing violations of moral principles.
Researchers at Yale University measured the amount of moral anger expressed on Twitter during controversial events, and examined the behavior of participants in controlled trials to see if social media algorithms that reward users for posting popular content Do they encourage more or less anger?
According to one of these researchers, this study is the first evidence that some people learn over time to express their anger on the Internet more because of the mechanism of liking and sharing posts.
Moral anger can be a powerful motivator for social gain, encouragement of collective cooperation, and social reform; But it has a dark side that leads to the persecution of minority groups, the spread of misinformation and political controversy.
Social media incentives make moderate people extreme over time
But social networks such as Facebook and Twitter claim to provide only a neutral platform for conversation, which could happen anywhere else; But many believe that social media increases people’s anger. According to investigators, there was no solid evidence to support this claim; Because accurately measuring the expression of complex social emotions such as moral anger is technically challenging.
The team used machine learning software that could track moral anger in Twitter posts to gather evidence. The researchers used the software to examine 12.7 million tweets sent from 7331 users to see if users were more angry over time and if so, why.
The team found that promotions on social networks such as Twitter affect the content that people share on the Internet; In other words, users who received more “likes” and “retweets” when expressing their anger on Twitter were more angry in subsequent posts. To substantiate these findings, the researchers conducted controlled behavioral experiments to show that receiving rewards for expressing anger makes users more angry in their posts over time.
The study also found that people with extremist political views were more likely to express anger at moderate users on social media; But moderate people are more affected by social incentives:
Our studies show that people who have moderate friends and followers are more sensitive to social feedback, which reinforces their anger. This shows that social media rewards intensify expression of anger and exaggerate moderate groups over time.
Of course, the purpose of this study was not to prove useful or harmful to increase the expression of moral anger for communities; But these findings could have implications for leaders who use social media and policymakers who are considering whether or not they need to legislate for them.
Given that moral anger plays an important role in social and political change, we must note that technology companies can influence the success or failure of mass movements by designing their platforms.
The researchers also concluded that social networks are not the only indicator of what is happening in society; Rather, by creating incentives and reward mechanisms, they change the way users react to political events over time.
What do you think about the results of this study? Are social networks really neutral platforms or do the likes and retweets mechanisms affect users’ behavior and anger?