Outrage plays well on social media, and it works even better if you name your enemy.
That’s the finding of a new study from researchers at the University of Cambridge and New York University who analyzed 2.7 million posts on Facebook and Twitter. It adds to a growing body of research calling into question the impact of the platforms on America’s political discourse.
The latest study looked at posts from news media accounts and members of Congress from 2016 to 2020, and it counted how often the posts included terms that referred to a political “out-group,” or opponent. The terms could be the name of a famous politician or a generic term such as “liberal” or “conservative.”
What the researchers found was that including such a term raised the odds that people would share the post by 67 percent — not just once, but for each additional term like it in a single post.
The finding is a window into why certain posts are shared so often, and…