The Center for Media Engagement tested journalist responses to Facebook comments on news stories in order to find out which responses led to more positive perceptions regarding the news outlets and its comment moderation. The messages were tested in the U.S. and Germany to see how well they worked across different cultures. We found that:
- In both countries, responses that acknowledged – rather than dismissed – a commenter’s emotions led to more positive attitudes toward the news outlet and its handling of the comment thread.
- These findings were true regardless of the topic of the discussion.
The results suggest that journalists should try to acknowledge a commenter’s emotions when engaging in comment threads and should avoid dismissing the commenter’s emotions, even when trying to redirect their behavior to be civil.