Dunking on a political opponent is one of the most effective ways to go viral, a study of almost 3 million social-media posts suggests

Two masked congressmen sit in front of a wallpapered wall while checking their cellphones
Congressmen checking their phones in April.

  • Congress members who hurl insults at opponents online get better engagement, a study shows.
  • Cambridge and NYU studied 2.7 million tweets and Facebook posts from Congress.
  • Mentioning “Leftist’ or “Biden” increased the odds of posts being shared by 67%, for example.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hurling insults across the aisle on Capitol Hill may not lead to legislative results but it helps politicians stand out on social media, new research suggests.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and New York University studied more than 2.7 million Twitter and Facebook posts from members of congress.

They found that posts mentioning political opponents – an “out-group” – led to higher engagement.

Posting about political opponents was the biggest “virality” driver, said Steve Rathje, one of the study’s authors.

“Specifically, each additional word about the opposing party (e.g., ‘Democrat,’ ‘Leftist,’ or ‘Biden’ if the post was coming from a Republican) in a social media post increased the odds of that post being shared by 67%,” said Rathje, a University of Cambridge PhD student, via Twitter.

Donald Trump phone
President Donald Trump in his Twitter days.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In an accompanying press release, Cambridge said the research showed the same virality boost for politicians on both Twitter and Facebook “regardless of political orientation.”

Mentioning opponents helped, but mentioning them in a negative light drove engagement even higher. Negative posts about opponents performed better on social media than positive posts about users’ own parties, the study found.

“These results are troubling in an attention economy where the social media business model is based on keeping us engaged in order to sell advertising,” Rathje said. “This business model may be creating perverse incentives for polarizing content, rewarding people for ‘dunking’ on the out-group.”

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The air is so dry in Antarctica that chips and popcorn never go stale. It also wrecks your skin, according to someone working there

Josiah Horneman, a man, is wearing a heavy red coat whilst walking in a corridor at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
Horneman in full gear as he prepares to walk out into the cold Antarctic winter.

  • During the polar winter, the remote Amundsen-Scott station is the driest place on Earth.
  • Over winter, people living there battle flaky skin and “bloody boogers”, he said.
  • But there are some perks: chips and popcorn never go stale.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The air in Antarctica’s remote Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is so dry that chips and popcorn never go stale, according to a worker that is currently living there

That is because the station is not only one of the coldest places on Earth. The air there is also incredibly dry.

“It’s the driest place on earth,” Josiah “Joe” Horneman, a physician assistant working at the station over winter, told Insider.

Horneman uses TikTok to show that day-to-day life at the station is far from bleak.

Because the air can often reach -70 degrees Fahrenheit, it can’t retain as much moisture. Any that is introduced instantly freezes, a fact demonstrated by Horneman by tossing boiling water into the air:


Answer to @lewithe13 @joespinstheglobe and i throw boiling water in the air. so cold. so fun. ##antarctica ##southpole

♬ original sound – toni on ice

“This means flaky skin, constantly hydrating, bloody boogers, getting zapped whenever you touch metal,” Horneman said.

But there are some unexpected perks to the air being that dry.

“Your bath towel and hair (for those that have it) dry very fast,” Horneman said, adding: “Mildew and mold are non-existent.”

Another upside is that chips and popcorn never go stale, Horneman said. That’s useful as the staff have a popcorn machine that they use for every movie night and TV night, Horneman says in a TikTok post.

“I eat so much freaking popcorn here,” he said.

Josiah Horneman points to a popcorn machine in the background at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
Staff have an on-site popcorn machine that is useful on movie nights.

You can read more about life in the Antarctic winter in Insider’s full interview with Horneman and a colleague here.

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See photos of the bird that researchers scientifically deemed the ‘most Instagrammable’

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Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) seen roosting on low fallen tree.

  • Two German scientists set out to answer a simple question: What makes a good bird photo?
  • They examined thousands of Instagram photos and users’ “like” behavior to find the champion.
  • In the end, a nocturnal fowl native to Australia and Southeast Asia came out on top.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in the tawny frogmouth’s case, the creature’s wide, emotive eyes helped secure it the title of the most photogenic species of its class.

Two German scientists – one, a photography aestheticist, and the other, an avid bird aficionado – set out to use empirical evidence to answer a seemingly subjective question: “What makes a great bird photo?”

In a study released last week, Dr. Katja Thömmes and Dr. Gregor Hayn-Leichsenring, both postdoctoral researchers at the University Hospital Jena in Germany, examined more than 20,000 photos of birds across nine Instagram accounts with a total following of more than 3 million users in search of their answer.

Some of the results were surprising.

For example, researchers found that a photograph’s “aesthetic appeal” was frequently unrelated to how “beautiful” the picture is in a traditional sense of the word. Certain colors on a bird, including blue and red, may garner more “likes” from Instagram users, but the “interestingness, idiosyncrasy, and…situational context” of a feathered fowl plays a larger role in accumulating social media approval.

In other words, the weirder the bird looks, the more likely people will be to respond positively to the photograph. And Instagram users’ appreciation for the unusual birds is likely responsible for the study’s overall victor: the frogmouth.

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Bird keeper at the Australian Reptile Park Kellie Masters looks after a 2-month-old Tawny Frogmouth on December 7, 2010 in Gosford, Australia.

Often confused for an owl, the nocturnal frogmouth boasts long wings, short legs, a hooked beak, and front-facing eyes. The birds are most commonly found in their native Australia and Southeast Asia.

While most birds’ eyes are positioned on the sides of their head, the frogmouth’s forward-facing eyes make the creatures appear more “personable” and “humanlike,” Tim Snyder, the curator of birds at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago told The New York Times.

“They always look perpetually angry,” Snyder told the outlet. “The look on their face just looks like they’re always frustrated or angry with you when they’re looking at you…it’s kind of funny.”

Thömmes told The Times she didn’t expect the frogmouth to take the number one spot. Out of more than 27,000 images examined by the duo, the frogmouth was only in 65, she said.

“The frogmouth brings that factor of surprise as it just does not look like any other bird, with its almost anthropomorphic, facial features,” Thömmes told The Times. “I must admit that I have grown quite fond of this peculiar nocturnal bird myself.”

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A 2-month-old Tawny Frogmouth looks on at the Australian Reptile Park.

To conduct their experiment, the scientists used a method Thömmes developed called the Image Aesthetic Appeal, or IAA.

Thömmes provided an in-depth explanation of how the method works to The Times: “[The number of likes on an Instagram photo] alone doesn’t have much meaning to it, especially if we want to compare it to another photo,” she said. But once the scientists control for “reach and time,” “we can for example, state that Photo X received 25 percent more likes than the exposure to the audience alone can explain.”

Other popular birds on Instagram include the pigeon, the turaco, the hoopoe, and the fairywren, according to the study.

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GameStop’s Reddit-fuelled trading surge could plunge 94% as it faces growing competition from rival digital games, one Wall Street analyst says

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  • GameStop’s shares could tumble 94% on strong competition from rival digital games, one analyst said.
  • The Reddit favorite’s meme popularity will likely have less of a long-term impact on its stock, he said.
  • Edward Woo downgraded GameStop’s rating to “sell” from “hold” and lowered his 12-month price target.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GameStop, the video-game retailer cheered by day traders this year, is likely to see its Reddit rally fade because of strong digital competition from Microsoft and Sony, Ascendiant Capital analyst Edward Woo wrote in a research note on Saturday.

Woo has raised questions about GameStop’s low market share in digital game sales and expects the company’s long-term share price to drop sharply.

He further said GameStop’s popularity on Reddit will at some point stop driving the movement in its stock.

“Due to the popularity of GameStop on Reddit chat boards and with Robinhood retail investors, GameStop shares appears to no longer trade on traditional fundamental valuations or metrics, but on retail investors’ sentiment, hope, momentum, and the powers of crowds,” he wrote.

“This makes short term price movement forecasts nearly impossible (and we acknowledge can drive shares much higher), but we believe that over the long run GameStop’s current elevated share prices will come back down to match its current weak results and outlook.”

Woo downgraded the company’s stock to “sell” from “hold,” and lowered his 12-month price target to $10 per share from $12.

GameStop didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The company’s stock was up almost 4,000% from a year ago after it found itself at the center of a stock market storm between Reddit day traders and short-sellers.

Its shares were last trading 10% lower in the pre-market, at $141.09 per share on Tuesday, after GameStop was said to be looking for a new CEO to replace George Sherman, sources told Reuters.

News of the management shake-up followed Woo’s stock downgrade. The company is already going through wide “transformation” in culture and strategy under board member and activist investor Ryan Cohen.

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Researchers tracked 163 companies over 13 years and discovered they became more open to change and less open to risk after women were hired into top management roles

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  • Harvard Business Review research points to the positive impacts of having women in C-Suite roles.
  • Researchers found organizations with more women embraced transformation while looking to reduce risk.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A company with multiple women executives is more likely to be open to change, according to findings published in the Harvard Business Review on Tuesday.

The study looked at several factors to determine the impact of hiring women for C-suite roles on business outcomes, including the rate of appointments by gender; research and development, marketing, and design costs; and company earnings reports.

The research was conducted by Corinne Post, a professor at Lehigh University’s College of Business, Boris Lokshin, an associate professor at Maastricht University, and Chrisophe Boone, a professor at the University of Antwerp.

163 multinational businesses were examined as part of the study. In terms of outcomes, firms saw a shift to risk aversion but an openness to change: “In other words, these organizations increasingly embraced transformation while seeking to reduce the risks associated with it,” said Harvard Business Review.

The researchers considered this first outcome to be a shift in the way companies thought about themselves. To quantify that shift, they pointed to a growth in R&D as opposed to mergers and acquisitions.

In effect, some takeovers, which the researchers say “could be described as a more traditionally masculine, proactive approach” gave way to a focus on work on research and new products and strategies within the company. Researchers stated that this change “could be described as a more traditionally feminine, collaborative approach.”

However, to benefit, the study found that women had to be integrated well into management teams. Notably, the study said that C-suite thinking was only impacted when female executives were added to top management teams that already had one or more women.

Researchers pointed to the value of diversity overall in making companies more open to change. Last year, Insider reported that companies were hiring more diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders despite hiring being down overall. Insider also noted that having a diversity, equity, and inclusion team made companies more likely to be perceived as industry leaders.

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