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Daytona Beach


Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology

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This research presents several aspects of anonymous social media postings using an anonymous social media application (i.e., Yik Yak) that is GPS-linked to college campuses. Anonymous social media been widely criticized for postings containing threats/harassment, vulgarity and suicidal intentions. However, little research has empirically examined the content of anonymous social media postings, and whether they contain a large quantity of negative social content. To best understand this phenomenon an analysis of the content of anonymous social media posts was conducted in accordance with Deindividuation Theory (Reicher, Spears, & Postmes, 1995). Deindividuation Theory predicts group behavior is congruent with group norms. Therefore, if a group norm is antisocial in nature, then so too will be group behavior. In other words, individuals relinquish their individual identity to a group identity, while they are a part of that group. Since the application used in this study is limited to a radial distance around specific college campuses, we predicted the anonymous social media users would identify as students, and behave closer to the norms expected of a student. Our results confirm that while deindividuation did occur among the college students, it did not exceed what is considered normal behavior for the social identity of a student.