Do You Self-Censor On Facebook? You're Not Alone

Not by a long shot: In a sampling of 3.9 million Facebook users, 71 percent self-censored new posts or comments. Also, men were more likely to self-censor, especially if they had a lot of male friends.

What's the Latest Development?

"Last-minute self-censorship" -- when Facebook users type more than five characters into an input field but don't post -- is fairly common, according to new research by Carnegie Mellon PhD student Sauvik Das and Facebook's Adam Kramer. In a sample of 3.9 million users, they found that 71 percent self-censored in some way either in new posts or in comments, and of these, the average user self-censored more than once. They also noticed that men self-censored more often, and people with diverse sets of friends tended to self-censor less.

What's the Big Idea?

A separate study with a smaller group of Facebook users revealed five reasons for self-censorship, including "aversion to sparking an argument or other discussion" and "concern their post would offend or hurt someone." Considering that Facebook represents a community of sorts, Das and Kramer say that future research should attempt to evaluate the positives and negatives of not sharing. In some cases, they say, "users and their audience could fail to achieve potential social value from not sharing certain content, and the [social-network service] loses value from the lack of content generation."

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