Audience Preferences of News Stories on Social Media ‎

Ahmed Al-Rawi


This study aims at understanding the kind of news stories social media users mostly like and comment on by examining 10 Arabic language Facebook pages run by different news organizations that posted over 85,000 news stories, generating over 26.4 million likes and 1.9 million comments. The top 100 most commented on and liked news stories from each news organization are categorized into 22 news topics. The examination of 2,000 news stories shows that there are no significant differences between liking and commenting on Facebook news. Online users mostly prefer to read news topics on local order, politics, human interest, and international politics stories when it comes to liking stories. In relation to commenting on news stories, the results show that online users mostly prefer news topics on local and regional politics, local order, and human interest. 


Facebook, SNS, online news, social media, news dissemination, selective exposure‎

Full Text:



Agarwal, A., Xie, B., Vovsha, I., Rambow, O., & Passonneau, R. (2011, June). Sentiment analysis of Twitter data. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Languages in Social Media (pp. 30-38). Association for Computational Linguistics.

Al-Rawi, A. (2016a). News values on social media: News organizations’ Facebook use. Journalism. DOI: 1464884916636142.

Al-Rawi, A. (2016b). News organizations 2.0: A comparative study of Twitter news. Journalism Practice. DOI: 17512786.2016.1195239

Al-Rawi, A. (2016c). Assessing public sentiments and news preferences on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. International Communication Gazette. DOI: 1748048516642732

Al-Rawi, A. (2016d). Understanding the social media audiences of radio stations. Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 23(1), 50-67.

Atwater, T. (1984). Product differentiation in local TV news. Journalism Quarterly, 61, 757-762.

Braun, J., & Gillespie, T. (2011). Hosting the public discourse, hosting the public: When online news and social media converge. Journalism Practice, 5(4), 383-398.

Bruns, A. (2007). Produsage: Towards a broader framework for user-led content creation, in Proceedings of the 6th SIGCHI Conference on Creativity & Cognition, Association for Computer Machinery, 13–15 June, Washington, DC.

Bruns, A., Highfield, T., & Burgess, J. (2013). The Arab Spring and social media audiences: English and Arabic Twitter users and their networks. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(7), 871-898.

Comunello, F., & Anzera, G. (2012). Will the revolution be tweeted? A conceptual framework for understanding the social media and the Arab Spring. Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations, 23(4), 453-470.

Emmett, A. (2009). Networking news. American Journalism Review. Retrieved from

Evans, P. (2015, May 13). Facebook's Instant Articles service launches with 9 major web publishers. CBC News. Retrieved from

Facebook. (n.d.1). Like. Help Center. Retrieved from

Facebook. (n.d.2). How News Feed Works. Help Center. Retrieved from

Farhi, P. (2009, April/May). The Twitter Explosion. American Journalism Review, 31(3). Retrieved from$4756

Gowing, N. (2011). Time to move on: new media realities - new vulnerabilities of power. Media, War & Conflict 4(1), 13-19.

Griffith, E. (2015). Why nine publishers are taking the Facebook plunge. Fortune. Retrieved from

Hermida, A. (2010). Twittering the news: The emergence of ambient journalism. Journalism practice, 4(3), 297-308.

Hermida, A., Fletcher, F., Korell, D., & Logan, D. (2012). Share, like, recommend: Decoding the social media news consumer. Journalism Studies,13(5-6), 815-824.

Horan, T. J. (2013). ‘Soft’versus ‘hard’news on microblogging networks: Semantic analysis of Twitter produsage. Information, Communication & Society, 16(1), 43-60.

Internet World Stats. (2017a). Middle East. Retrieved from

Internet World Stats. (2017b). Africa. Retrieved from

Ju, A., Jeong, S. H., & Chyi, H. I. (2013). Will social media save newspapers? Examining the effectiveness of Facebook and Twitter as news platforms. Journalism Practice, 1-17.

Keren, M. (2006). Blogosphere: The new political arena. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Kümpel, A. S., Karnowski, V., & Keyling, T. (2015). News sharing in social media: A review of current research on news sharing users, content, and networks. Social Media+ Society, 1(2), 2056305115610141.

Landis, J. R., & Koch, G. G. (1977). The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics, 159-174.

Ma, A. (2015, June 30). Facebook is experimenting with how you read the news. The Hufftington Post. Retrieved from

Naaman, M., Becker, H., & Gravano, L. (2011). Hip and trendy: Characterizing emerging trends on Twitter. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(5), 902–918.

Pew Research Center. (2010, March). Understanding the participatory news consumer: How internet and cell phone users have turned news into a social experience. Retrieved from

Pew Research Center. (2015, July 14). The evolving role of news on Twitter and Facebook. Retrieved from

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. (2015). Social networks and their role in news digital news report 2015. Retrieved from

Riffe, D., Ellis, B., Rogers, M. K., Van Ommeren, R. L., & Woodman, K. A. (1986). Gatekeeping and the network news mix. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 63(2), 315-321.

Shoemaker, P., & Cohen, A. (2006). News around the world: Practitioners, content and the public. London: Routledge.

Smith, A. (2014, February 3). 6 new facts about Facebook. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

SocialBakers. (2015). Facebook statistics directory. Retrieved from

Steyn, P., Pitt, L., & Berthon, P. (2010). The social media release as a public relations tool: Intentions to use among B2B bloggers. Public Relations Review, 36(1), 87–89.

Tam, D. (2012, August 22). Facebook processes more than 500 TB of data daily. cnet. Retrieved from

Tufekci, Z., & Wilson, C. (2012). Social media and the decision to participate in political protest: Observations from Tahrir Square. Journal of Communication, 62(2), 363-379.

Wilson, C., & Dunn, A. (2011). The Arab Spring| Digital media in the Egyptian revolution: Descriptive analysis from the Tahrir data set. International Journal of Communication, 5, 25.

Wilkinson, D., & Thelwall, M. (2012). Trending Twitter topics in English: An international comparison. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63(8), 1631-1646.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business, and Graduate Studies.