Tweeted Joke Lifespans and Appropriated Punch Lines: Practices Around Topical Humor on Social Media

Tim Highfield


During the coverage of breaking news and broadcasts on social media, journalists and audiences alike share links, comments, and opinions in response to new developments. On Twitter, such content can gain increased visibility by receiving retweets from other users, through automated functions, or by manually republishing and modifying comments. This article studies tweeted coverage of the doping scandal involving Lance Armstrong in 2012 and 2013. Humorous framing is found to be popular in this discussion, and such comments experience different longevity to breaking news tweets. With these patterns come new opportunities for users to modify and appropriate punch lines in attempts to receive increased attention—and for the serendipitous creation of similar jokes—which raise questions of authorship and attribution.


humor, Twitter, social media, news and commentary, journalism, breaking news, irreverence

Full Text: