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People used more ‘anger’ emojis for Congress on Facebook after 2016 election

People used more ‘anger’ emojis for Congress on Facebook after 2016 election

(CNN) – A pair of studies released by the Pew Research Center outlined how the relationship between lawmakers and constituents on Facebook changed after the 2016 election.

On the constituent side, Pew found that of the five possible emotional reactions that Facebook users can use — “angry,” “love,” “sad,” “haha” and “wow” — the “angry” reaction became the most likely to be used when users were reacting to posts created by congressional leaders after the election.

Prior to the 2016 presidential election, the “love” reaction had been the most popular. In early 2016, only 2 percent of Facebook reactions to congressional posts were “angry.”

In the nine months between the rollout of the “angry” reaction option in 2016 and Election Day, the “angry” button was used to respond to lawmakers’ posts 3.6 million times. In the nine months after the election, however, the “angry” reaction increased to nearly 14 million. The use of the “angry” reaction had increased by 385 percent since its inception, far surpassing the extent the other four reaction options were used for congressional posts.

Use of the “love” reaction option also increased after Election Day, but to a lesser extent: Users “loved” congressional posts 7 million times in the nine-month period before the election and 12 million times in the same period afterward.

Despite the increase in the kinds of emotional reactions Facebook offers, “likes” are still the most popular way for users to engage. Congressional posts received 111 million “likes” in the nine months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Between Election Day and July 24, 2017, the number of “likes” for congressional posts had increased by 17 percent, to 129 million.

On the congressional outreach side, Pew found that Republican members of Congress were twice as likely to post in support of President Donald Trump as Democratic members had been to post in support of President Barack Obama.

Despite trailing Republicans in terms of supporting their party’s President on Facebook, Democrats were nearly five times more likely to express political opposition under Trump than they had been during the end of Obama’s presidency. The study also noted that those who voiced political opposition were more likely to attack each other than to support their party’s own platform.