Here's how rants on social media can come back to haunt you

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 23, 2018 17:19 hrs
Using Smartphone (AP photo)

Washington: We have all indulged in angry rants on social media, a lot of our frustration, irritation, and displeasure finds its way to our social media posts.

According to a recent study, these angry rants can come back to hurt you sooner than you think. Positive chat resonates for a few seconds, generally, but negative chat persists for many minutes.

Seth Frey, lead author of the study said, "It's not just that this negative chat has a long life. But it has a longer effect on the original speaker. Negative people are really hurting themselves."

The findings were published in Behavior Research Methods. Researchers looked at hundreds of millions of chat room messages, over many months, in about 600,000 conversations among young people playing a popular online social game. Most of the million participants worldwide were between 8 and 12 years of age.

The data showed that a positive message doesn't just cause changes in others, but ripples back to the original sender. The effects of a sender's message start rippling back quickly, after just two seconds and continue for a minute.

However, chat containing negative messages or words affects others more strongly and continues to ripple back from a chat audience for up to eight minutes on average.

The result is a "feedback loop" in which one instance of negativity causes a stream of negativity that continues to perpetuate itself.

Positive and negative statements were measured with a sentiment analysis toolkit typically used for short Twitter posts.

According to the researchers, "This work, can expand the scope of social-influence-based public health policies and ultimately help young people respond maturely to social influences, whether positive or negative, online or offline."

Knowing how long negative or positive interactions persist and measuring precisely how much they snowball helps us understand when a helpful administrator should intervene, and for how long they should continue monitoring.