Apps, News

Instagram users avoid controversial pictures

Instagram users avoid controversial pictures
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Christian Boas

The majority of Instagram users (following moobilux here) use the platform mainly for social news and entertainment. Political and controversial image content, however, does not appeal to most. This was shown by a recent study by researchers from the University of Missouri.

“The reasons why users avoid political or controversial image content are manifold,” says study author T.J. Thomson. One important reason is that Instagram only allows “likes” in the form of hearts. Reactions like anger or sadness are not possible in the app. “Some users in the study said they feel bad about ‘liking’ a photo of a tragedy, while others say they’d rather turn to other sources for serious news,” explains Thomson.

The researchers divided users into three groups: users who are passionate about adventure and travel, as well as users who consume photos of culture and politics most often, and ultimately users who are mostly positive or funny images prefer. While the majority of group members have always preferred other images to the news photos, the researchers found that news images can generate strong engagement when presented in an aesthetically pleasing and empowering manner.

“In our study, most Instagram users preferred simple, clean images,” says study co-author Keith Greenwood. “News organizations could get more engagement from users by posting pictures that are representative of the story but still friendly to the eye.”

Disturb watermarks
The research team also found that the fewer people in a picture are, the greater the likelihood that someone will comment on the photo or label it with a “like”. Images with watermarks or stamps representing the creator of the image were more unpopular in the study than content without such markings. Users also find photos of their immediate surroundings less interesting than pictures around the globe. “Photos of exotic, distant places often reflect many positive qualities, such as beauty, adventure and uniqueness,” concludes Greenwood.

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