Mind Your Social Media Manners: Pseudonymity, Imaginary Audience, and Incivility on Facebook vs. YouTube

Gi Woong Yun, Sasha Allgayer, Sung-Yeon Park


A quantitative social media content analysis was conducted to examine the role of anonymity, imagined audience and impression management, and incivility in the context of a controversial Eurovision Song Contest win. User comments to posts featuring the artist’s winning performance from Facebook and YouTube were culled and analyzed. Although comments about the singer’s performance were predominantly positive on both platforms, non-performance-related comments were far more negative on Facebook than on YouTube. Though valence of the replies targeting other social media users and the Eurovision organization ranged from neutral to negative, as predicted by notions of imagined audience and impression management, YouTube comments were more negative than Facebook comments toward other users. YouTube comments also contained more profanity than Facebook comments. In terms of interacting with other users, YouTube comments more frequently targeted other users and used more profane language in doing so. Overall, the results suggest that anonymity may not necessarily promote negative commenting behaviors; however, the desire for impression management triggered by the nature of imaginary audience could influence social media user interactions.


Eurovision Song Contest, pseudonymity, imaginary audience, social media, YouTube, perceived reach

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