Swearing Effects on Citizen-to-Citizen Commenting Online: A Large-Scale Exploration of Political Versus Nonpolitical Online News Sites

Kyounghee Kwon, Daegon Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Swearing, the use of taboo languages tagged with a high level of emotional arousal, has become commonplace in contemporary political culture. The current study attempts to understand the ways in which swearing influences citizen-to-citizen news commenting online. Based on a large corpus of the 2-month user comments from 26 news websites in South Korea, the study examines swearing effects as well as its interplay with anonymity on garnering public attention and shaping other users’ perceptions of the comments. Findings suggest that swearing generally has a positive effect on increasing user attention to comments as well as gaining other users’ approvals. Comparisons between political and nonpolitical topics further suggest that swearing effect on gaining public attention is particularly prominent for political discussions. In contrast, the magnitude of change toward positive valence in public perception to comments is much greater for nonpolitical topics than for politics. From the findings, we conclude that an acceptable degree of swearing norms in online discussions vary across news topical arenas. The results also lead to discussions about the possibility of like-minded exposure to political comments as a default condition for online discussions. Finally, the study highlights the role of high-arousal emotions in shaping discursive participation in contemporary networked sociodigital environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-102
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Keywords

  • anonymity
  • discursive participation
  • emotions in politics
  • incivility
  • online comments
  • profanity
  • swearing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law

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