Sharing and Discussing News in Private Social Media Groups: The social function of news and current affairs in location-based, work-oriented and leisure-focused communities

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    Social media platforms are an increasingly dominant medium through which people encounter news in everyday life. Yet while we know more-and-more about frequency of use and sharing, content preferences and network configurations around news use on social media, the social experiences associated with such practices remain relatively unexplored. This paper addresses this gap to consider if and how news facilitates conversations in everyday contexts where social media play a communicative role. It investigates how people engage with current affairs collectively in different social formations and their associated following, sharing and discussion practices. Specifically, it studies the role of news in six focus groups consisting of people who know each other offline and simultaneously communicate regularly through private Facebook or WhatsApp groups, and who interact primarily in relation to their membership in a particular (1) location-based (2) work-related or (3) leisure-oriented community. It finds that communication within social media communities whose members consider their ties as weak generally tended to be more news-centred. Even more significant was perceived control over privacy and presence of clear norms and community boundaries, which alongside the communicative aims of the group proved important considerations when it came to deciding whether to share news within the community.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)187-205
    Number of pages19
    JournalDigital Journalism
    Issue number2
    Early online date3-May-2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • ONLINE
    • WEAK
    • SPACES
    • SENSE
    • TIES

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