News Engagement on Closed Platforms. Human Factors and Technological Affordances Influencing Exposure to News on WhatsApp [article]

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The use of WhatsApp in everyday life, but also in relation with practices such as receiving, sharing and commenting on news is growing. However, due to its close or private nature, users’ engagement with news is less obvious or harder to grasp on WhatsApp than on other social platforms. Drawing on practice theory, this research aims to address how WhatsApp users engage with news content, to identify if they are subject to incidental exposure, and how technological affordances, as well as individual and in-group social dynamics, shape these issues.

The results of 6 focus groups highlight that on WhatsApp news is experienced by each user in an individual fashion, and news is used decontextualized from media brands. In fact, the sender seems to be the most influential element who determines how users engage with and trust media content. Furthermore, depending on the level of trust that the sender possesses, news is more likely to be endorsed or not. Finally, incidental exposure to ideologically diverse news content tends to happen in groups, particularly large groups, not in one-on-one chats.


News engagement, Whatsapp, practice theory, technological affordance, ssocial endorsement, closed platforms


Pere Masip, Jaume Suau, Carles Ruiz-Caballero, Pablo Capilla & Klaus Zilles (2021) News Engagement on Closed Platforms. Human Factors and Technological Affordances Influencing Exposure to News on WhatsApp, Digital Journalism, DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2021.1927778


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