Kittens and Jesus: What would remain in a newsless Facebook?
Keywords:Facebook, news, journalism, Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland, French, text mining, computational methods, spacy, BERT, topic modeling
This paper examines what would remain on Facebook if news content was removed, like the company temporarily did in Australia, in February 2021. Using a corpus of 3.3 million Facebook posts published in French in 2020 in four countries (Belgium, Canada, France and Switzerland), it compares media content to non-media content by submitting the text of the posts to three computational analyses: basic n-gram comparison, χ2 residuals and topic modeling. Two distinct spheres are defined within Facebook content: a “public interest” sphere, made up of media pages, and a “public’s interest” sphere, made up of non-media pages. Religious content and “inspirational” “feel good memes” were found to be most characteristic of a newsless Facebook.
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