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ERIC Number: ED534662
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 132
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1249-8038-6
Engagement with News Content in Online Social Networks
Oeldorf-Hirsch, Anne
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Reports indicate that as the Internet is displacing traditional news sources, younger users continue to be disconnected from the news. Fortunately, the Internet provides new ways of sharing and discussing news stories with others through social networking sites such as Facebook, which may be important for engaging users in the news they read online. This paper explores the potential benefits of sharing news content, and seeing shared news content, on a social networking site, in terms of engagement in that news content. It was predicted that sharing a news story on Facebook would cause participants to feel more involved in the story. Receiving comments and recommendations on these posts should also enhance their sense of influence. It was also predicted that those who post comments and leave recommendations and even those who are exposed to others' comments and recommendations on the story would feel more involved in the story and more informed by it as a result of taking an active role. Finally, the specific level at which they broadcast the story on Facebook is explored for its effects on news story involvement, perceptions, and sense of influence. This study used an experimental design to test the hypotheses. 333 participants, ranging in age 18-63 years and 67% female were in one of 13 news sharing conditions which varied in where they posted the story (news feed, friend's wall, or direct message), what comment they made (opinion, question, or no comment) and whether they tagged friends; three receiving conditions where they found a story on Facebook and read it, commented on it, or indicated that they "liked" it; or the control condition where they read the story on the original news website. All participants filled out an online questionnaire immediately following the study and again one week later. Results show that while sharing the story on Facebook as a Messenger compared to only reading it on the news website did not significantly affect their initial involvement in the story, those who shared the story were significantly more involved in the story one week later. Those who asked a question about the news story when posting it felt a significantly higher sense of involvement in the story than those who posted the story with an opinion. Also, those who tagged friends felt a greater sense of community. Including a comment with the news story and tagging friends also led to a greater number of comments on the post from Facebook friends, which led to a greater sense of influence and greater sense of community. The number of "likes" received led to greater interest, involvement, and feeling informed about the topic. Broadcast level had many interactions with the other independent variables that highlighted the importance of posting on a friend's wall, asking a question, and tagging friends. Posting the story publicly also led to more positive psychological outcomes, by way of receiving comments that were perceived to be favorable. For those who found a news story posted by a friend on Facebook, commenting on the story did not have a significant effect on their involvement in the story, and seeing others' comments did not have a significant effect on involvement in the story. Theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed and recommendations are made for future research and interface design. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A