Social media users often resort to fakery to appear authentic: study

Do you photoshop your image to impress your Facebook friends? Join the fake social media club.


According to an interesting study, presenting an authentic image on social network sites includes an element of fakery.


"Being authentic is very important for social media users. At the same time, users also admitted faking parts of their online image in order to conform to social norms and expectations," said researchers from Aalto University in Finland.


By focusing on Facebook and, researchers came to the conclusion that being real is much more acceptable according to social norms.


"We also encountered a widespread disdain by users for what is known as profile tuning, or intentionally sharing content designed to depict the user in a false way," said Suvi Uski from Aalto University.


Sharing personal content online on social network sites has become a common activity for increasing numbers of people around the world.


"Our study reveals is a common belief that sharing content in a way that is considered to be excessive, attention seeking or somehow portrays that individual in a fake manner is judged extremely negatively," Uski noted.


While social norms required individuals to be real in their sharing behaviour, presenting oneself in the right way through sharing often necessitated an element of faking," co-author Airi Lampinen added.


In addition, users of Facebook have a high degree of control on what is shared with others but researchers found they often chose not to share anything for fear of conveying the wrong message to fellow users.


"Consequently our desire to be regarded as authentic in social media can also prove to be difficult to achieve. A desire to conform actually inhibits a truthful unencumbered sharing of content," the study emphasised.


The paper appeared online in the journal New Media and Society.



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