News is “toxic”: Exploring the non-sharing of news online

Nicholas Mathews, Valérie Bélair-Gagnon, Seth C Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Sharing is a central activity on social media platforms and a key component in crafting one’s self-presentation online. In the context of news, user-driven sharing is seen as vital to the success of digital journalism. While research has examined why people choose to share news online, much less is known about non-sharing—that is, why people may be reluctant to share, and what that determination suggests about the nature of news and self-presentation. We examine qualitative interview responses from a cross-section of US news consumers to investigate this question. We find that non-sharers tend to believe that news is “toxic” and potentially damaging to their reputations as well as their relationships. Not sharing news is a protective mechanism for identity maintenance, even as it brings worries about one’s voice being silenced in the process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by the Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media and an Agora Journalism Center faculty fellowship, both held by the third author in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Audience
  • journalism studies
  • news experience
  • qualitative interview
  • sharing
  • social media


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