When I Look Much Prettier on Instagram [Competition&InformationDeceptionInOnlineNetworks]

Competition and Information Deception in Online Social Networks by Church & Thambusamy examines competition within modern networking society from the scope of behavioral phycology. It provides valuable insight into how individuals behave competitively online by examining the relationship between user’s competitive desires and intension to engage in misrepresentation of and refusal to disclose personal information. This research paper revealed the negative cycle of competition among social networking sites (SNS) users by personal information deception (PID), although it also defines that certain degree of competition benefits an organizer of SNS to increase its revenue by attaining more participate. It seems very difficult to find the means to balance the degree of competition and the following benefit from such competition. Church & Thambusamy highlights collecting accurate information rather than gaining a large amount of possibly false information. Online competition is required to be controlled by supervising the accuracy of personal information online. In order to do so, revising the administrative system of SNS would be primarily required. 

Church & Thambusamy use the social norms theory by Madden et. al. to formulate the role of competition in the network society. According to Madden et.al. competition is perceived as valued and considered right or proper by the network community. With this positive norm of competition, SNS users are eager to compete each other for higher social status by disguising their personal information. When someone feel dissatisfied by seeing his/her friends’ successful-looking post online, which cannot be told whether it is real or fake, he/she will try to compete by pumping up the personal information . As forough says in her post https://mschandorf.ca/2019/03/11/appraisal-and-the-amenability-of-norms/that “norms around competition inform the way individuals appraise something”, this modern social norm of competition seems intensify competitive behavior, especially online where there is no demand of expenditure for the trapping of prestige. Moreover,designs and systems of SNS accelerate the online competitive behavior by providing wider range of expression on sites such as Facebook’s “dislike” button. This leads users to more intensified comparison of their online social status.  

So then, is competition bad? Or good? 

It is very hard to say because it is also true that competition among users and SNS companies’ revenue is positively related. Competition on social network increases the participation of SNS, and therefore the revenue. Just like Facebook’s “dislike” button, they sometimes encourage competition. Moreover, since the competition is valued (according to the social norms around social network), users enthusiastically participate online. However, since such competition induce negative phenomena such as PID, they also need to require uses to provide accurate information in order to create the safer platform.

Church & Thambusamy concludes that even though it is challenging to find the way to encourage SNS users to provide plenty of accurate information which create the trust among users, “a small amount of accurate information is better than large amounts of potentially misleading or false data.” (p.280). I personally agree that the renovation is now needed for users and SNS companies for better social networking platform where usered securely share their daily for both to enjoy and to increase status. Such sociological and psychological theory by Church & Thambusamy that was distinctively established through the empirical field study allows readers to extend and update their perception toward the variety of competitions which is observable on the social networking services (SNS) on daily basis. 

image retreived from https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/instagram-marketing-strategy/


  1. This response is very relatable as it references the commonly used social media platform of Instagram and provides a realistic scenario of how people feel when comparing themselves on that platform. I found it very thought-provoking when you mentioned that designs such as the Facebook dislike button lead to more expression and, consequently, intensified comparison. However, Facebook also has come up with happy and sad react buttons that could potentially rally cooperative and supportive thoughts rather than comparative ones. Do you think it is the actual designs of these social media networks that enhance competition or is the preliminary mindset from society brought in by people before using sites and social media like these?


  2. Thank you for sharing your response. It’s interesting that you mention that SNS users will compete with their friends’ posts, not knowing if they are fake or not. I wonder if the same conditions apply to strangers’ posts or those by people that an individual follows or admires? Or are they more inclined to compete directly with people that they know personally? Also, Facebook doesn’t have a dislike button, but they do have various reactions. How might that play into the idea of competition? Would a like/dislike system like Youtube work differently than a reaction system like Facebook?


  3. This is a very interesting post relating to young adults using social media today. People these days often use different social media platforms to make connections in the world. Do you think that on platforms like Instagram, people are competing for opportunities through the aesthetic of their profile? If that is the case, do you think the social norms they meet online are the same for those in real life situations?


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