Joining the clash or refusing to bash? Bystanders reactions to online celebrity bashing

Abstract

Researchers, in studies of online news-site commenting, have found a huge number of aggressive comments and have indicated that such comments should be interpreted within the discussion context that other bystanders, such as journalists and other readers, have created. In this study, we aimed to offer insights into bystanders’ reactions to negative news articles and other bystanders’ aggressive comments in the specific context of celebrity news. Therefore, we subjected Flemish celebrity-news articles (N = 69) and the Facebook reactions (N = 5,529) to those articles to a content analysis. First, using a quantitative content analysis, we coded each comment as having a negative, neutral, or positive tone. Next, we conducted a qualitative content analysis, which consisted of a vertical coding phase and a horizontal coding phase, so as to investigate the comments’ content in more depth and to determine which elements resulted in some comments’ negative and even aggressive tone. The results indicate that most readers’ reactions stayed on topic, thus merely contributing to the negative atmosphere that the journalist had already created. However, unlike the journalists, who tended to express their emotions rather subtly, the readers reacted using extreme aggressive language. Furthermore, although these aggressive reader reactions generally seemed to set an aggressive tone for future reactions, some readers broke this aggressive cycle and explicitly disapproved of the aggressive expressions.

Bibliographic citation

Ouvrein, G., De Backer, C. J., & Vandebosch, H. (2018). Joining the clash or refusing to bash? Bystanders reactions to online celebrity bashing. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 12(4), article 5. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5817/CP2018-4-5

Keywords

Celebrity bashing; bystanders; user comments; online aggression; Facebook

Full Text:

HTML

References

Show references Hide references

Baker, P. (2001). Moral panic and alternative identity construction in Usenet. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2001.tb00136.x

Barlinska, J., Szuster, A., & Winiewski, M. (2013). Cyberbullying among adolescent bystanders: Role of the communication medium, form of violence, and empathy. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 23, 37–51. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2137

Binns, A. (2012). Don’t feed the trolls! Managing troublemakers in magazines’ online communities. Journalism Practice, 6, 547–562. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2011.648988

Bishop, J. (2014). Representations of “trolls” in mass media communication: A review of media-texts and moral panics relating to “internet trolling.” International Journal of Web Based Communities, 10, 7–24.

Bowman, S., & Willis, C. (2003). We media: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information. Reston, VA: Media Center, American Press Institute.

Cheng, J., Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, C., & Leskovec, J. (2014). How community feedback shapes user behavior. In Proceedings of the 8thInternational AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (pp. 41-50). Oxford, UK: Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Press.

Cheng, J., Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, C., & Leskovec, J. (2015). Antisocial behavior in online discussion communities. In Proceedings form the 9thInternational AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (pp. 61-70). Oxford, UK: Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Press.

Cheng, J., Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, C., Leskovec, J., & Bernstein, M. (2017). Anyone can become a troll. American Scientist, 105, 152-155.

Chmiel, A., Sobkowicz, P., Sienkiewicz, J., Paltoglou, G., Buckley, K., Thelwall, M., & Holyst, J. (2011). Negative emotions boost user activity at BBC forum. Physica A, 390, 2936–2944. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physa.2011.03.040

Cicchirillo, V., Hmielowski, J., & Hutchens, M. (2015). The mainstreaming of verbally aggressive online political behaviors. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18, 253–259. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2014.0355

CIM. (2017). CIM 2017: HLN bereikt marktleiderschap dat ongezien is in Europa [HLN is market leader in Europe]. Retrieved from https://www.persgroepadvertising.be/nl/blog/HLN-bereikt-marktleiderschap-dat-ongezien-is-in-Europa

Claessens, N., & Van den Bulck, H. (2014). A severe case of disliking Bimbo Heidi, Scumbag Jesse and Bastard Tiger: Analysing celebrities’ online anti-fans. In S. Reijnders, K. Zwaan, & L. Duits (Eds.), The Ashgate research companion to fan cultures (pp. 63–74). London, England: Ashgate.

Coe, K., Kenski, K., & Rains, S. A. (2014). Online and uncivil? Patterns and determinants of incivility in newspaper website comments. Journal of Communication, 64, 658–679. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12104

Dalla Pozza, V., Di Pietro, A., Morel, S., & Psaila, P. (2011). Justice, freedom and security. Cyberbullying among young people. Brussels, Belgium: European Union Publications Office.

De Backer, C. J. S., & Fisher, M. L. (2012). Tabloids as windows into our interpersonal relationships: A content analysis of mass media gossip from an evolutionary perspective. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 6, 404–424. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0099244

De Backer, C. J., Nelissen, M., Vyncke, P., Braeckman, J., & McAndrew, F. T. (2007). Celebrities: From teachers to friends. Human Nature, 18, 334–354. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-007-9023-z

DeSmet, A., Veldeman, C., Poels, K., Bastiaensens, S., Van Cleemput, K., Vandebosch, H., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2014). Determinants of self-reported bystander behavior in cyberbullying incidents amongst adolescents. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17, 207–215. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2013.0027

DeSmet, A., Bastiaensens, S., Van Cleemput, K., Poels, K., Vandebosch, H., Cardon, G., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2016). Deciding whether to look after them, to like it, or leave it: A multidimensional analysis of predictors of positive and negative bystander behavior in cyberbullying among adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 57, 398–415. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.12.051

Diakopoulos, N. A., & Naaman, M. (2011). Towards quality discourse in online news comments. In Proceedings of the ACM 2011 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (pp. 133-142). New York, NY: ACM.

Dresner, E., & Herring, S. C. (2010). Functions of the nonverbal in CMC: Emoticons and illocutionary force. Communication Theory, 20, 249–268. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2010.01362.x

Dubied, A., & Hanitzsch, T. (2014). Studying celebrity news. Journalism, 15, 137–143. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884913488717

Dylko, I., & McCluskey, M. (2012). Media effects in an era of rapid technological transformation: A case of user-generated content and political participation. Communication Theory, 22, 250–278. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2012.01409.x

Erjavec, K., & Kovačič, M. P. (2012). “You don’t understand, this is a new war!” Analysis of hate speech in news websites’ comments. Mass Communication & Society, 15, 899–920. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2011.619679

Esser, F. (1999). “Tabloidization” of news. A comparative analysis of Anglo-American and German press journalism. European Journal of Communication, 14, 291–324. https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323199014003001

Feasey, R. (2008). Reading Heat: The meanings and pleasures of star fashions and celebrity gossip. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 22, 687–699. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304310802227947

Ferrans, S. D., Selman, R. L., & Feigenberg, L. F. (2012). Rules of the culture and personal needs: Witnesses’ decision-making processes to deal with situations of bullying in middle school. Harvard Educational Review, 82, 445–470. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.82.4.4u5v1n8q67332v03

Gardiner, B., Mansfield, M., Anderson, I., Holder, J., Louter, D., & Ulmanu, M. (2016, April 12). The dark side of Guardian comments. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/12/the-dark-side-of-guardian-comments

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.

Hara, N., Bonk, C. J., & Angeli, C. (2000). Content analysis of online discussion in an applied educational psychology course. Instructional Science, 28, 115–152. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1003764722829

Johansson, S. (2008). Gossip, sport and pretty girls. What does “trivial” journalism mean to tabloid newspaper readers? Journalism Practice, 2, 402–413. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512780802281131

Krippendorff, K. (2011, January 25). Computing Krippendorf’s alpha-reliability. Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/asc_papers/43/

Lee, H. (2005). Behavioral strategies for dealing with flaming in an online forum. The Sociological Quarterly, 46, 385–403. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.2005.00017.x

Lenhart, A., & Madden, M. (2007). Teens, privacy and online social networks: How teens manage their online identities and personal information in the age of MySpace. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2007/04/18/teens-privacy-and-online-social-networks-how-teens-manage-their-online-identities-and-personal-information-in-the-age-of-myspace

Lombard, M., Snyder-Duch, J., & Bracken, C. C. (2010, June 1). Practical resources for assessing and reporting intercoder reliability in content analysis research. Retrieved from http://matthewlombard.com/reliability/index_print.html

Marwick, A., & boyd, d. (2011). To see and be seen: Celebrity practice on Twitter. Convergence, 17, 139–158. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856510394539

McCombs, M. E. (2004). Setting the agenda: The mass media and public opinion. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Miles, M. B., & Huberman, M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Ouvrein, G., De Backer, C. J. S., & Vandebosch, H. (2018). Online celebrity aggression: A combination of low empathy and high moral disengagement? The relationship between empathy and moral disengagement and adolescents’ online celebrity aggression. Computers in Human Behavior, 89, 61–69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.07.029

Ouvrein, G., Pabian, S., Machimbarrena, J. M., Vandebosch, H., & De Backer, C. J. S. (2018). Online celebrity bashing: Wrecking ball or good for you? Adolescent girls’ attitudes toward the media and public bashing of Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. Communication Research Reports, 35, 261–271. https://doi.org/10.1080/08824096.2018.1467833

Ouvrein, G., Vandebosch, H. & De Backer, C. J. S. (2017). Celebrity critiquing: Hot or not? Teen girls’ attitudes on and responses to the practice of negative celebrity critiquing, Celebrity Studies, 8, 461–476. https://doi.org/10.1080/19392397.2017.1307126

Podnieks, E. (2009). Celebrity bio blogs: Hagiography, pathography, and Perez Hilton. a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, 24, 53–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989575.2009.10846788

Pyżalski, J. (2012). From cyberbullying to electronic aggression: Typology of the phenomenon. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 17, 305–317. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632752.2012.704319

Reich, Z. (2011). User comments: The transformation of participatory space. In J. B. Singer, A. Hermida, D. Domingo, A. Heinonen, S. Paulussen, T. Quandt, & M. Vujnovic (Eds.), Participatory journalism: Guarding open gates at online newspapers (pp. 96–117). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Reyes, M. (2007). CHISMAX to the Max! The celebrity gossip economy. AghamTao, 16, 37–49.

Siegel, J., Dubrovsky, V., Kiesler, S., & McGuire, T. W. (1986). Group processes in computer-mediated communication. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37, 157–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(86)90050-6

Stever, G. S., & Lawson, K. (2013). Twitter as a way for celebrities to communicate with fans: Implications for the study of parasocial interaction. North American Journal of Psychology, 15, 339–354.

Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 7, 321–326. https://doi.org/10.1089/1094931041291295

Thelwall, M., Sud, P., & Vis, F. (2012). Commenting on YouTube videos: From Gueatemalan rock to El Big Bang. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63, 616–629. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.21679

Van den Bulck, H. (2011). Media: Structuur en werking [Media: Structure and Working]. Antwerpen: Acco.

Van den Bulck, H., & Claessens, N. (2014). Of local and global fame: A comparative analysis of news items and audience reactions on celebrity news websites People, Heat, and HLN. Journalism, 15, 218–236. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884913488725

Van den Bulck, H., Paulussen, S., & Bels, A. (2015). Celebrity als nieuwswaarde. Een analyse van celebritynieuws in Vlaamse kranten en ontspanningsweekbladen [Celebrity as news value. A content analysis of Flemish newspapers and tabloids]. Nieuwsmonitor Steunpunt Media. Retrieved from http://www.steunpuntmedia.be/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Nieuwsmonitor-25.pdf

Van Gorp, B. (2014). It takes two to tango: The relationship between the press and celebrities in Belgium. Celebrity Studies, 5, 423–437. https://doi.org/10.1080/19392397.2014.920209

Vilanova, F., Beria, F. M., Costa, A. B., & Koller, S. H. (2017). Deindividuation: From Le Bon to the social identity model of deindividuation effects. Cogent Psychology, 4, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2017.1308104

Williamson, M. (2010). Female celebrities and the media: The gendered denigration of the “ordinary” celebrity. Celebrity Studies, 1, 118–120. https://doi.org/10.1080/19392390903519149

Wong-lo, M., & Bullock, L. M. (2014). Digital metamorphosis: Examination of the bystander culture in cyberbullying SC. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19, 418–422. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2014.06.007

Ziegele, M., Breiner, T., & Quiring, O. (2014). What creates interactivity in online news discussions? An exploratory analysis of discussion factors in user comments on news items. Journal of Communication, 64, 1111–1138. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12123

Ziegele, M., & Jost, P. B. (2016). Not funny? The effects of factual versus sarcastic journalistic responses to uncivil user comments. Communication Research, 2016, 1-30. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650216671854

https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2018-4-5