No place for news in social network web sites?
Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to assess the extent to which the news is discussed in social network web sites. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This article reports a quantitative analysis of the text of 26,953 Windows Live Spaces from September 2006 to February 2007 using a heuristic designed to detect news discussions. In addition, a comparative link and page analysis of 20 popular general social network environments (e.g. MySpace and Facebook) and 11 popular blog environments (e.g. Typepad and Blogger) is presented. Findings ‐ The text analysis suggests that news plays little role in most Windows Live Spaces, but the link and page analysis suggests that the key difference is less between social network environments and blog environments than between free standardised environments (e.g. MySpace and Blogger) and professional or semi-professional blogs, with the former tending to carry relatively little news-related content. Research limitations/implications ‐ The methods used are exploratory rather than giving definitive conclusions. Practical implications ‐ Those interested in public reactions to the news should focus on blogs and blog-like social network sites rather than general social network sites, and should expect only a tiny proportion of the discussions to be news-related. Originality/value ‐ Although the role of blogs in reporting, discussing and making the news has been analysed frequently, this is the first study about the extent to which general social networking sites engage with (mass media) news.