New Study: Anger Online Very Contagious, According To Weibo

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Hey, here's some news of the day: anger spreads like wildfire across social media.

Researchers in China analyzed the trajectory of emotions across social-media site Weibo, looking to figure out how writers' posts were influenced by the content of those in his or her network. Surprise: if you feel "disgusting" or "sad" and shared it with the world, that message probably won't get very far. If you're spreading joy like Father Christmas, more of your friends might respond or imitate your post — but if you're angry? Your post will hit the jackpot of social-media glory, spreading faster and casting a wider net throughout your social network than any other kind of sentiment.

Say what? And here we thought Twitter was for the joyful.

In China, the ruling Communist Party has decreed that social-networks, unless they're under their control, are barred — meaning no Twitter, and no Facebook. (They, do, however, have Instagram, meaning that censorship there doesn't spread as far as eliminating pictures of one's food.) Weibo is seen as a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, with the slight distinction being that the government can eliminate or promote messages at will. It boasts 503 million users, because, ya know, China's kind of big.

The study, led by Beihang University in Beijing, grouped the posts of 200,000 Weib-ans into four categories: sad, happy, disgusting, and angry. They had already established "strong" connections between users: if someone had interacted with another person more than 30 times, then they were applicable for the study. And then they just kinda sat back and watched the anger spread, much like everyone does if they happen to be on Twitter when The Newsroom, or President Obama comes on screen.

And emoticons weren't left out of the game, hence this glorious illustration of human emotion:

 

To conclude: if you want to amass fame over the Internet, get angry. Really angry. Who needs to adhere to simple human decency when there are things like Twitter followers at stake?

Must Reads