Blurred lines: Defining social, news, and political posts on Facebook

Emily K. Vraga, Leticia Bode, Anne Bennett Smithson, Sonya Troller-Renfree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Although a growing body of literature examines exposure to social, news, and political information via social media, we have little understanding of how users delineate these categories. In this study, we develop over 100 discrete Facebook stimuli varying these topics, and then test to what extent and which users match our definition of those posts. Our results suggest that users and researchers often agree on defining social and political content, but are more likely to disagree on categorizing news content. Therefore, researchers should carefully define all concepts—especially news—when considering prevalence and effects on social media users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-294
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016


  • Measurement
  • news use
  • political information
  • social media
  • uses and gratifications


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