It can often seem like news that makes us sad and angry is filling our lives and, more specifically, our Facebook feeds.
But is that really the case?
To find out, we analysed the reactions — the "loves", "hahas", "sads", "angry" and "wows" — to more than 150,000 Facebook posts from 11 of Australia's most popular online news outlets to see if we could make sense of what is making people tick (or ticked off) on Facebook.
That's more than 24 million emotional reactions since January 1, 2017. If you've reacted to a news story on Facebook in the past year, chances are we've tallied that up in these results.
The timeline below shows the most common reaction for the day, as well as the stories that provoked the biggest reactions over the year.
Aside from showing the sheer mass of content that organisations, like ABC News, 7 News, the Sydney Morning Herald, and others put on Facebook, the data gives us a few clues as to the most common reactions.
If anyone was counting, Anger was the most popular reaction on 169 of the 343 days captured in our data.
Sad came in second with 132 days, followed by Haha with just 20 days, then Love with 16 and Wow with four.
But overall, if you combine all the reactions to all the posts for the year, Sad was the biggest emotional reaction to news posts, followed by Angry, Haha, Love and, finally, Wow.
We've excluded Likes — all 40 million — because we wanted to find out what was making audiences go the extra step to express an emotion.
It's not hard to see why Sadness came out on top when you look at total reactions over the year.
Sadness generated seven of the top 10 biggest reactions in a day over the course of the year.
As you can see in the second chart below, the biggest day was January 23, in the wake of the Bourke Street car attack in the heart of Melbourne. There was an outpouring of emotion when the family of the youngest victim spoke of their loss.
Facebook reactions per day over 2017
Many of the peaks in Sadness were driven by deaths of prominent people. You can see some of those peaks on September 8, with the death of cancer campaigner Connie Johnson; April 10, with satirist John Clarke's death; and May 8, with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell's death.
These huge reactions tie in with the way we know audiences respond to the deaths of celebrities.
"News about celebrities circulates as cultural texts that carry shared social experience and grief is a powerful personal experience that can have a collective social dimension," Glen Fuller, a co-author of the University of Canberra's 2017 Digital News Report, said.
What's interesting is that, according to Facebook's own data, Love is by far the most popular emotional reaction on the site. Love accounts for more than half of all Facebook emotional reactions since the reaction feature launched in early 2016.
So what's behind all the outrage and tears on news posts?
To find out we looked at the keywords behind some of the most popular posts of each reaction.
The posts you found most upsetting largely appear driven by death and tragic events.
The word "died" was mentioned three times more than the next top keyword, "killed".
For Angry, "warning", "children" and "died" were all top words. But we also started to see divisive topics, such as same-sex marriage and Donald Trump fall under this emotion.
That's not the only place the US President pops up, Trump is the top keyword for the Haha reaction.
In fact, this is where we find many of our politicians, including Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Pauline Hanson.
If we drill down even further, we see how key people or topics compare against the average post or even against each other.
Take our Prime Minister, for example. Audiences were 21 per cent more likely to laugh at a post about Malcolm Turnbull than at the average post.
There was 15 per cent more love for posts about same-sex marriage than the average.
And stories mentioning the Indian mining giant Adani triggered 46 per cent more anger than the average.
It's worth noting reactions aren't necessarily a direct reflection of how people feel about a subject. For example, one of the top posts mentioning Donald Trump was about Justin Trudeau welcoming refugees to Canada in the face of the US immigration ban on some Muslim-majority countries. That post got a lot of love — in contrast to most Donald Trump posts, which tended to provoke anger and laughter.
So how did Mr Turnbull stack up against Bill Shorten or Tony Abbott… or even against posts about cats?
Notes about the story
- Publications were selected based on Nielsen's top news site rankings for 2017
- They include ABC News, Guardian Australia, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph, 9 News, 7 News Australia, HuffPost Australia and The Australian.
- Keywords were selected from posts that mentioned the word or phrase and had more than 100 overall reactions
- Percentages in the keyword comparison tool are based on total reactions for each keyword
The post Where's the love? The sad news about your Facebook feed appeared first on News Wire Now.