Going Negative on Facebook: Negative User Expressions and Political Parties’ Reactions in the 2013 Austrian National Election Campaign

Uta Russmann


Social media platforms like Facebook are the new neighborhood pubs. Citizens often use these new public forums to talk about their anger and lack of faith in politics. Consequently, political parties’ online management of negative user expressions has become increasingly important to build and maintain good relationships with citizens. To explore and identify negative user expressions and how political parties react to them, this article analyzes the Facebook pages of seven political parties during the 2013 Austrian national election campaign. Overall, almost half of the 2,584 analyzed user comments on the parties’ official Facebook pages contain a negative expression. Half of these negative expressions are personal or organizational appeals—statements on a party or politician’s qualification for the job or personal characteristics. Mostly users’ negative comments on Facebook address the party as an organization. Nevertheless, the political parties do not react to these.


negativity, user expressions, social media, Facebook, election campaigns, Austria, content analysis

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