Sadness was not quickly shared, and the authors said it required more detailed exploration to observe the underlying reasons.

Christo Wilson, a US-based researcher at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, who was not involved with the work, also undertakes analysis of Weibo.

He said that the headline result of the latest study was “slightly sensational as the research does not back this up”.

Dr Wilson told BBC News: “The authors show that people who have a particular emotional disposition tend to group together and interact with each other, but whether the information will spread beyond that angry group is difficult to predict.

“The work definitely shows that accounts that tend to post angry stuff tend to group together, but from that you cannot necessarily infer the spread of information. That claim is too strong.”