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2017 #SMSociety Theme: Social Media for Social Good or Evil

Our online behaviour is far from virtual–it extends our offline lives. Much social media research has identified the positive opportunities of using social media; for example, how people use social media to form support groups online, participate in political uprising, raise money for charities, extend teaching and learning outside the classroom, etc. However, mirroring offline experiences, we have also seen social media being used to spread propaganda and misinformation, recruit terrorists, live stream criminal activities, reinforce echo chambers by politicians, and perpetuate hate and oppression (such as racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic behaviour).

Saturday, July 29 • 11:01 - 12:30
Spiral Of Silence 2.0: Political Self-Censorship Among Young Facebook Users [FULL]

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Authors: Christian Pieter Hoffmann and Christoph Lutz

Abstract: Do social media strengthen or weaken citizens’ political participation? Authors have found that, while lowering the cost of political engagement, social media may also foster the fragmentation of audiences and contribute to an increasingly polarized political discourse. This study applies the “spiral of silence” theory to political discourse among digital natives on the social networking platform Facebook. We hypothesize that users perceiving their online network as politically heterogeneous will be more likely to engage in self-censorship and limit their political self-expression. Previous studies have found that impression management, i.e., communication behavior geared towards projecting a socially desirable self, increases engagement in online social networks. Accordingly, we hypothesize that users geared towards impression management will be more engaged in online political discourse. We test these hypotheses based on a survey among German Facebook users under the age of 30 and using structural equation modeling. We find that network heterogeneity does indeed increase political self-censorship while impression management increases users’ willingness to speak out.

Saturday July 29, 2017 11:01 - 12:30
TRS 1-147 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9

Attendees (19)