Mass media plays an important role in the construction and circulation of risk perception associated with animals. Widely feared groups such as spiders frequently end up in the spotlight of traditional and social media. We compiled an expert-curated global database on the online newspaper coverage of human-spider encounters over the past ten years (2010–2020). This database includes information about the location of each human-spider encounter reported in the news article and a quantitative characterisation of the content—location, presence of photographs of spiders and bites, number and type of errors, consultation of experts, and a subjective assessment of sensationalism. In total, we collected 5348 unique news articles from 81 countries in 40 languages. The database refers to 211 identified and unidentified spider species and 2644 unique human-spider encounters (1121 bites and 147 as deadly bites). To facilitate data reuse, we explain the main caveats that need to be made when analysing this database and discuss research ideas and questions that can be explored with it.
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