Anonymity and Language Usage: A Natural Experiment of Social Network Integration


The Internet creates an anonymous and non-authoritarian environment where people do not have social inhibitions and can express opinions freely. However, such disinhibition at times leads to abusive use of language and uncivil behavior in the online environment. This paper leverages data from a natural experiment on an online review platform that integrated social network platform personalization features, which exposes users in an anonymous environment to a social environment. Interestingly, our preliminary findings show that after the social network platform integration, users express more emotions (specifically, they become more positive but less negative), are less likely to use inappropriate language that include sexually explicit words or words that shows rage. Further, users are less egocentric and more social in their language use. We discuss the implication of this study for creating a civil online environment

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