The issue takes it all? Incidental news exposure and news engagement on Facebook


Social network sites (SNS) like Facebook have become an integral part of accessing news. However, as most users come across news on Facebook when using the site for other reasons (incidental news exposure), they will not necessarily engage with the content they encounter. Although there already is some evidence on the role of single factors that can inform news engagement decisions on Facebook, integrated findings—considering the highly personalized information environment—are still missing. Addressing this, the following study adopts a qualitative approach and relies on self-confrontation interviews with German Facebook users (N = 16). Results of the observations/interviews show that engagement decisions (i.e. the decision to attentively read an encountered news article) are mostly guided by users’ perception of the news content and whether they are (already) interested or invested in the issue of the linked article. Yet, in some situations, this “Matthew effect” can be overshadowed by users’ perceptions of the recommending friend, leaving at least some room for social influence.



Digital Journalism