To Post or Not to Post: The Effects of Persuasive Cues and Group Targeting Mechanisms on Posting Behavior
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When social network sites (SNSs) users intend to share content, they need to estimate the appropriateness of the content for their audience. Wrongly made estima-tions can result in regret about the posted content. A common strategy for users to minimize regret is to self-censor content. However, this also means that content that would have been safe to share may be left unshared. To solve sharing problems, SNSs have been focusing on improving group targeting mecha-nisms to give users more control over their content. As users still need to estimate the content appropri-ateness themselves, we asked whether improving these mechanisms is really the solution. We hypothesized that users’ posting decisions consist of uncertainty and therefore providing guidance on whether it is safe to post would be more beneﬁcial. To answer this we conducted two studies. In Study A we identiﬁed what kind of content users are self-censoring and what the reasons are. Study B was used to test and compare diﬀerent solutions to limit the self-censored content found in Study A. We created a persuasive cue that predicted how the user’s audience would possibly re-spond to the content and compared this with the eﬀects of a group targeting mechanism. Among 215 participants we found that posting decisions consist of uncertainty and that persuasive cues are a more eﬀective means to limit self-censorship, but can also warn users of content that is not safe to post. Making use of such cue can improve SNSs’ sociability and reduce regret of wrong posting decisions.