Social media is where many of us are quick to share our thoughts, and according to Chinese scientists, anger spreads much faster online than joy.
Rui Fan, alongside colleagues at Beihang University in China, analyzed 70 million updates from 200,000 users on Weibo, a service similar to Twitter, during a six month period in 2010.
The scientists linked users based on actual interaction with one another, and only monitored users who had over 30 interactions during the six month time frame.
Emoticons helped determine sentiment around the social media updates, and placed them in one of four categories: anger, sadness, disgust or joy.
While sadness or disgust were found to not spread easily, updates involving either emotion came more from users who posted about joy.
Anger was found to strongly influence connections, and not only spread more easily, but more broadly.
According to the scientists, here is what contributed to the angry social media updates:
The first are conflicts between China and foreign countries, such as the military activities of the US and South Korea in the Yellow Sea and a collision in September 2010 between a Chinese and Japanese ship. The second are domestic social problems like food security, government bribery and the demolition of homes for resettlement; all hot topics in China. “This can explain why the events related to social problems propagate extremely fast in Weibo,” say Rui and co.