Is there anything about social media that researchers haven’t yet zoomed in on? This time, the study (.pdf) comes from a Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student and a Facebook staffer, who reveal that most Facebook users tend to self-censor their comments at the last minute before posting.
Carnegie Mellon’s Sauvik Das and Facebook Data Scientist Adam Kramer co-authored a study that put millions of people’s Facebook habits under a microscope during a 17-day period. When the duo examined the massive sample size of 3.9 million users, they found that 71 percent edited themselves right before posting.
The study identifies “self-censorship” as “the act of preventing oneself from speaking” — though personally, I think a more accurate definition might be “the act of preventing oneself from looking like an imbecile to everybody one knows.” (You say potato, I say potahto.) The report hones in on the fact that today’s social media enables people to write and then review their thoughts before sharing them. This, Das and Kramer believe, is what gives users the room to second guess what they wrote.
I’m both surprised by these research results and not. On the one hand, it’s human nature for a person to evaluate how he or she comes off to others. But on the other hand, it certainly doesn’t seem like a whopping 71 percent are actually considering what they put out on Facebook. The network’s rife with offensive status updates, questionable pics and other regrettable messages.
I suppose all those gross updates and “potty” shares must come from the other 29 percent.