Today, online malicious comments are serious issues. They can cause psychological distress and suicide of victims. Although prior studies have focused on the role of anonymity as a major factor in making these comments, results of these studies have been inconsistent. On the other hand, the need for attention from others can provide an alternative explanation for such malicious comments. However, this perspective has been rarely studied. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate effects of anonymity and need for attention on posting malicious comments online and compare these two factors, resolving dark sides of online interaction.
This study obtained 327 questionnaires of Facebook users through a survey and analyzed the research model using partial least squares (PLS) regression.
Results of this study revealed that the need for attention affected malicious comments through partial mediation of neutralization. On the other hand, anonymity did not significantly affect malicious comments.
This study has the following academic implications. First, we empirically examined the critical influence of need for attention on making malicious comments online based on the impression management theory. Second, this study revealed that the influence of need for attention on making malicious comments was partially mediated by neutralization. Third, this study may offer an explanation for contradicting findings on the role of anonymity in the phenomenon of posting malicious comments online.
Practical implications of this study are as follows. First, SNS platforms can limit activities of persons who post malicious comments frequently. Second, this study suggests that a notice is needed to inform the seriousness and harmful consequences of malicious comments. Third, Facebook practitioners should be aware that low anonymity may not reduce malicious comments.
This study quantitatively examined the effect of need for attention on malicious comments based on the impression management theory. It provides a fact that individuals who want to attract attention from others would write malicious comments through neutralization.
Kim, H., Bock, G. and Kim, H. (2020), "A new perspective on online malicious comments: effects of attention and neutralization", Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-04-2019-0179Download as .RIS
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