Eye-tracking the news: How comment civility affects news shareability on social media

Project: ResearchInterdisciplinary research

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences


  • Social media, Experiments, Political communication, News


Research has shown that social popularity indicators (the number of likes and shares of a post) do not play a major role in subjective assessments of the post value (defined as either clickability or shareability). This project turns to the effect of comments on the evaluation of a news post's likelihood to be shared. Using state-of-the-art eye-tracking technology, we perform a controlled experiment in which respondents are exposed to stimuli that simulate the design of a social media platform. The stimuli are manipulated news items from five categories (politics, society, economy, sport, arts and entertainment), which include two comments. In scenario one, the comments are in agreement with the post and with one another; in scenario two, the comments starkly disagree with each other. We track the pattern of attention over the features and content of the social media news item and its associated comments in order to see which elements correlate with shareability assessments. We also test if political news are evaluated differently in comparison with the other four categories.
Short titleEye-tracking the news
Effective start/end date2018/09/192020/05/31