Social Media Buttons in Comment Sections

Stroud, Natalie Jomini; Muddiman, Ashley; Scacco, Joshua

“Like.” Not only is it frequently used in casual conversations, the term also governs how we respond to everything from news articles to comments from our friends on Facebook. The term structures responses to online content. A heartwarming story about a local hero? “Like!” But “like” doesn’t always seem appropriate. An article on a tragic event? It’s hard to hit “Like” in response. A fairminded, but counter-attitudinal, post in a comment section? It’s challenging to press “Like.” What if news stations used other buttons? What if, instead of “Like,” one could click “Respect”? In this study, we analyzed how different buttons affected citizens’ responses to comments in an online comment section. We wanted to know whether some buttons – and the concepts they convey – allow commenters to express their appreciation for counter-attitudinal postings more than others.