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Hostile Emotions in News Comments: A Cross-National Analysis of Facebook Discussions

Humprecht, E., Hellmueller, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-6609-9395 & Lischka, J. A. (2020). Hostile Emotions in News Comments: A Cross-National Analysis of Facebook Discussions. Social Media + Society, 6(1), article number 2056305120. doi: 10.1177/2056305120912481


Recent work demonstrates that hostile emotions can contribute to a strong polarization of political discussion on social media. However, little is known regarding the extent to which media organizations and media systems trigger hostile emotions. We content-analyzed comments on Facebook pages from six news organizations ( N = 1,800) based in the United States and Germany. Our results indicate that German news organizations’ Facebook comments are more balanced, containing lower levels of hostile emotions. Such emotions are particularly prevalent in the polarized information environment of the United States—in both news posts and comments. Moreover, alternative right-wing media outlets in both countries provoke significantly higher levels of hostile emotions, thus limiting deliberative discussions. Our results demonstrate that the application of technology—such as the use of comment sections—has different implications depending on cultural and social contexts.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: hostile emotions, partisan hostility, political news, social media, user comments, comparative research
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
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