Social networking sites such as Facebook provide new ways of sharing news stories that allow users to act as opinion leaders in their networks, encourage discussion, and potentially increase their involvement in current events. This study identifies the particular features of Facebook that facilitate the discussion of news and tests their effects on involvement and feelings of influence. Participants (N = 265) in a 3 (Broadcast level: news feed vs. wall post vs. direct message) × 3 (Elaboration: opinion vs. question vs. no comment) × 2 (Involving-friends: tag vs. no tag) between-subjects factorial experiment were randomly assigned to share a story from a news website on Facebook. Results show that user involvement in the news content depends on the social affordances of the site, particularly those that allow for audience customization and those that drive network feedback. Asking the network's opinions and targeting specific friends led to greater involvement in the news content. Discussion through comments led to a greater sense of influence and greater involvement for those sharing the news story. These findings highlight the importance of encouraging individuals to act as sources of information in their networks to drive engagement in current events in the changing news landscape.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Human-Computer Interaction