How anonymity deteriorates social media posts

By Claudia Besser and Niels Niemann

Social media is all about sharing personal content with other people. But how do posts change when platforms enable users to publish them anonymously? The app Jodel is exactly based on that idea. Users can write short posts without their name appearing. In cities with a university, like St. Gallen, the app is mostly used by students. Although being very popular for a while, Jodel lost a big part of its community. This might be a consequence of the misbehavior of some users.

How does being anonymous influence your behavior on social media?

This question was answered by doing preliminary research. In an interview, we asked users that use Facebook and Jodel about how they change their behavior when using both platforms.

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These are some of the answers we got from students of the University of St. Gallen:

Nicole, 21, Business Administration Student

“I am very active on Facebook but I only used Jodel  in the assessment year. I posted things on Jodel which I found funny but would also have posted with my own name on Facebook. I did not like the offensive posts on Jodel, that is why I deleted it.”

Max, 23, Business Administration Student

“I used Jodel a few years ago but in my opinion, the quality of the posts on Jodel was too low, which is why I uninstalled the app. I think people are more open and direct when being anonymous.”

Michelle, 23, Law and Economics Student

“I am a Facebook user but I only publish a post maybe 1-2 times a year. I use Jodel sometimes but not very actively. In my opinion, Facebook is a lot more personal than Jodel. I also have the feeling that posts on jodel are less important.”

The interviewed students made the impression, that social media posts which were published anonymously tend to be too direct and offensive, which is why anonymous social media platforms are becoming less popular among students. However, this assumption could differ when considering a different target group.

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