Perceived Social Sanctions and Deindividuation: Understanding the Silencing Process on Social Media Platforms
This study aimed to understand how social sanctions and deindividuation affect people’s willingness to express their opinions on social media. Previous research has demonstrated that specific affordances of social media platforms may impact opinion expression, but the psychological mechanisms behind this behavior still need to be fully understood. To better understand the deindividuation process across social media platforms, this study examines the variables of anonymity and identifiability using the social identity model of deindividuation effects and the spiral of silence theory. We surveyed 535 people online and found that deindividuation significantly moderates the relationship between social sanctions and willingness to express an opinion. Additionally, we discovered that users perceive a higher level of deindividuation on Twitter than on Facebook. This research sheds light on the complex interplay among affordances, group dynamics, and opinion-expression behavior on social media platforms.