You know when you're herding cows to the slaughter and one cow starts going in one direction and so all the other cows follow? No, that's not an experience you're familiar with? Well the internet is sort of like that, says a new study released on how "liking" a comment will prompt other people to "like" it too.
Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, NYU and MIT published their findings in the journal Science from a five-month experiment based on 101,281 comments on "a major news-aggregation site" (start your bets as to which one that was now). The team added "likes" to some comments and, according to an MIT press release, found that:
...comments manipulated to have positive ratings were 32 percent more likely than untreated comments to receive a favorable rating from the very next viewer of those comments, and 30 percent more likely than untreated comments to obtain a very high favorable rating.
Comments that were given a down vote or left alone were found to have no noticeable changes in popularity. Sinan Aral of MIT told NBC News that this could be a sign that the internet is actually biased towards being nice:
"One intuitive explanation is that we tend to go along with positive social influence but be skeptical of negative social signals of value and quality. Positive social influence creates herding behavior and positive ratings bubbles, while negative social influence does not have the same effects."
Others are speculating that this could have negative affects on the way we consider the ratings and reviews on sites like Yelp, which is actually not brand new information; we already knew that those comments could lead to some trouble.