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September 17, 2013

Rage Filled Tweets Have What it Takes to Go Viral: Study

Image courtesy of (mikumistock)/

Forget about happiness. Rage sells.

Researchers from Beihang University in China have studied how tweets labeled with a particular emotion influence users of Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter that has more than 500 million users posting roughly 100 million messages daily.

And what they found was happiness, sadness and even disgust simply could not compete with tweets inspired by anger.

The study seems to indicate that if you want your tweets to go viral, you need to tap in to your inner rage.

Led by scientist Rui Fan, the university researchers amassed about 70 million tweets from 200,000 users and used these posts to study users that interact, according to MIT Technology Review.

They divided the online interactions into four main categories: joy, sadness, anger and disgust. They then studied how the four emotions spread through the network.

Sadness and disgust were least likely to spread across the network, while happiness had a moderate reaction. It was the angry tweets, however, that were most apt to go viral.

“We find the correlation of anger among users is significantly higher than that of joy, which indicates that angry emotion could spread more quickly and broadly in the network, while the correlation of sadness is surprisingly low and highly fluctuated,” the researchers said.

“Moreover, there is a stronger sentiment correlation between a pair of users if they share more interactions. And users with larger number of friends posses more significant sentiment influence to their neighborhoods. Our findings could provide insights for modeling sentiment influence and propagation in online social networks.”

On Weibo, two events in particular inspired rage-filled posts: the conflicts between China and other countries and domestic social problems such as food security and government bribery.

While no similar studies have been done on Twitter, it is a safe bet that rage sells equally well in other parts of the world.

Image courtesy of (mikumistock)/