The Silent Minority

Social media is integrated to some degree in everyone’s lives. Whether it is a means of entertainment or a source of income, social media is omnipresent. In this article by E. Mitchell Church and Ravi Thambusamy, the authors look into deception in social media. However, the study, in my opinion, ignores a vast “silent minority” that impact social media, but may not actively participate in it.

This article studies the practice of PID (personal information deception) and its relation to online competition through social media. PID is narrowed down into two categories which summarized are a falsification of your online profile or omission of detail in your online profile. E. Mitchell Church and Ravi Thambusamy argue that individuals on social media form appraisals for online situations, particularly the situations they are seeing other people in, which in turn incites competition and then leads to PID.

The main issue I have with this article is that it fails to acknowledge the “bystanders” that are a large part of most media sites, OSNs and otherwise. With a little digging, I discovered that Facebook currently has 2.27 billion users, but only 1.5 daily users. That does not even take into consideration what portion of these users are posting every day, or ever. This lack of recognition really starts to undermine the arguments and usefulness the authors suggest this article has when it is already non-applicable to 700 million users on a platform.

The reality is is that OSNs are making the majority of their money off of merely accumulating more users. This drives the value of their companies up, allowing them to charge more for advertisement. As well, most OSNs monitor what users are viewing most, and then direct the corresponding adverts. They do not base it off of information provided in a profile (although this is not the case regarding content a user may or may not view).

To be fair, this information would have more relevance concerning analyzing why the group who are actively posting, post in a certain way, and how that impacts the rest of the active group. For example looking into how stars such as Kim K who possess massive online presence, cause their fans to commit PIDs. As illustrated by Eleanor, they alter themselves (committing a PID) as they feel they possess less worth if they do not.

Its safe to say that, although this article does provide useful information, it fails to acknowledge a vast, silent minority that does not practice PID as a daily routine on OSNs. For this reason, I believe that the paper is incredibly limited as to how far it can be used when looking into behaviorism on social media.


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  1. Hi! I like your reading response, especially how many users are inactive on Facebook, I wasn’t even aware of that. Just wondering, would you say that comparing oneself to celebrities such as Kim K fuels competition more than peer-comparison which also easily leads to competition?


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