Deceptive Personal Information Online: What fuels it?

The popularity and usage of online social networks dominates our present day method of socialization. Church and Thambusamy address a relevant, yet new area of research through the analysis of personal information deception (PID) in online social networks (OSN). The authors objective was to define the roots of competitive desires within these social networks and two examine how they impact a persons intent on misrepresenting themselves online. Their study strayed from the standard security and privacy fuelling such behaviour and proposed the very fitting theoretical design of Bagozzi’s self-regulation framework in explaining the process of PID. I believe the usage of this model was extraordinarily impactful in explaining how misrepresentation and refusal practices can be used proactively in purposefully depicting oneself differently online. Although already bearing great importance, I believe the article failed to address and highlight a large driving component of PID where perceived competitor loss is positively related to the desire for online competition on OSN. 

The authors do a thorough job in explaining how competitive desire is manifested when valence is perceived between oneself and the success of other users, outlining the basic notion that any aspect of social life in which social status is valued has the ability to foster feelings of competition (Church and Thambusamy 275).  The article outlines a multiple of hypotheses used to frame this study which are shaped according to Bagozzi’s model of attitudes, desires and behaviour which form intent. The fourth and fifth hypotheses of the study include the ideas that perceived status and hedonic benefits are positively related to the desire for online competition on OSN. In addition to these two hypotheses, I believe an equally fundamental relationship was overlooked in addressing how competition is fuelled by the perceived loss of a competitor. The authors acknowledge that competitive feelings foster a desire for people to become “winners” and not “losers” (Church and Thambusamy 274). Perceiving the loss of a competitor in a OSN would thus further ones self-image of a winner and their competitor as the loser. 

As seen in Garcia et al, a framework of psychological factors that increase competitive behaviour accurately depict social comparison as a driving force. Channelling this idea into the modern day context of media and online social networks, social comparison can be understood as how one perceives themselves in comparison to others in their OSN. The desire to improve ones performance or image is fulled by minimizing discrepancies between oneself and another (Garcia et al 635), which can be achievable through PID. In turn, competitive behaviour is generated in order to protect one’s superiority, making sure the “winner” self is maintained. Yet how may this be done? By the inevitable gain of one, and loss of another. This goal is a major component of social comparison which Garcia et al outline as a pillar contributing to the overall increase of competitive behaviour.  Where Garcia et al and Church and Thambusamy overlap is through their lack of specification in orienting this component of competitive behaviour as being fuelled by another’s loss. 

Trying to keep up with constantly one-upping others online can be physically exhausting. But mentally, I agree with 1thinktwice ’s concluding point on this sort of competition being one of unhealthy practice. By engaging in PID, one is falsifying their personal information and trying to  keep up with the falsified world they have created. Not only are these outcomes of engaging in PID tragic and stressful on their own, but in doing so, the intent on providing this information so that others will feel less of themselves is one of great consideration when fostering a negative and unhealthy competitive framework online. This brings forth an avenue of research which could delve into the possible relationship engaging in PID has in fostering competition fuelled by the loss of others in the social world. 

References:

Image Source: https://mashable.com/2016/03/08/50-cent-money-fake/#dIJ.I4JYTPqa

Blog post: https://mschandorf.ca/2018/11/06/insta-worthy/

3 Comments

  1. I really enjoy your reading response. Such a network competition environment has indeed brought pressure to people and caused the spread of false information. However, if analyzed from a commercial perspective, social media appears to increase user and user engagement, so competition is inevitable, and the problem of false personal information that comes with it is temporarily unsolvable.

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