Neptune Navigate Blog

Tips for online safety, security, and responsible digital citizenship for parents, kids, and families.

Negativity Found to Increase Chance of Twitter Post Going Viral

May 12, 2021

Do you ever wonder what makes a Twitter post go viral?  Is it that the tweets are funny or tragic, or just entertaining?  Typically, the goal of a viral post is to create one that will garner the most attention or emotions with “likes” and “retweets”.  A lot of research has gone into the factors that contribute to a viral tweet. 

According to a team of researchers, tweets with a negative point of view are more likely to go viral than those that are more positive. Negative tweets tend to get more attention than positive or neutral tweets because there is a correlation between negative content and a high emotional response such as anger. 

That’s where the concept of “hypercriticism” comes into play.  Teresa Amabile from the Harvard Business Review says “the truth behind hypercriticism is that people assume negative statements to be more intelligent than positive ones. Not only do most people assume negative criticism to be steeped in superior intelligence, we tend to go negative in our own opinions when trying to impress people with our own intelligence.” 

Consider the viral tweets surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic or the recent election. The speed at which negative tweets travelled was much faster than those that were positive.  In the end, a viral post is triggered when people experience a highly emotional response, whether positive or negative.

Thankfully, we get to choose how we respond to those emotions when engaging on social media platforms like Twitter. Making a concerted effort to only take in positive content requires us to be just as intentional about posting it.