Engagement and Likeability of Negative Messages on Facebook during Israel's 2013 Elections

Tal Samuel-Azran, Moran Yarchi, Gadi Wolfsfeld


To contribute to the mapping of negative campaigns effects, this study examines the engagement (shares and comments) and likeability (likes) effects of negative campaigning strategies on Facebook during Israel's 2013 elections. The analysis shows that attacks, contrasts, and responses to negative messages are highly shared and commented on, illustrating the engaging nature of negative campaigning in Israel. In terms of likeability, results were mixed, as responses to negative messages were more liked than other messages, but attacks and contrasts were not. The 20 most-liked posts were analyzed and responses of the leader of the religious party Habayit HaYehudi to alleged attacks against modern orthodoxy attracted likes in dramatic numbers, riling followers who objected to the growing tensions between religious and secular Jews in Israel. The study provides the first mapping of the effects of an online negative campaign in Israel and illuminates the relevance of its political and religious context, particularly Israel’s polarized multi-party system and religious, democratic nature.   

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