From embarrassing Facebook posts to controversial Tweets, why are consumers oversharing online?

July 26, 2013

Increased use of digital communication is causing consumers to lose their inhibitions and "overshare" online, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Sharing itself is not new, but now have unlimited opportunities to share their thoughts, opinions, and photos, or otherwise promote themselves and their self-image online. Digital devices help us share more, and more broadly, then ever before," writes author Russell W. Belk (York University).

Blogging beckons us to tell all. YouTube's slogan is "Broadcast Yourself." Social media sites ask us "What do you have to Share?" Consumers can rate books, movies, or restaurants online and engage with other consumers on forums and on the websites of sellers like Amazon, Yelp, or IMDB. The possibilities for sharing online are endless and many of the most popular websites and smartphone apps are devoted to sharing.

This week, the media was abuzz with the news that the 70-year-old Geraldo Rivera had shared a shirtless "selfie" on Twitter. Countless celebrities, from "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, have lived to regret controversial tweets. Meanwhile, ordinary consumers routinely post photos online of themselves nude or engaged in embarrassing activities.

While a limited number of people see our physical selves, a virtually infinite number of people may see our online representations of ourselves. Appearing literally or figuratively naked online can come back to haunt consumers in future school and job applications, promotions, and relationships.

"Due to an online disinhibition effect and a tendency to confess to far more shortcomings and errors than they would divulge face-to-face, consumers seem to disclose more and may wind up 'oversharing' through digital media to their eventual regret," the author concludes.

Explore further: Fashion blogs: How do ordinary consumers harness social media to become style leaders?

More information: Russell W. Belk. "Extended Self in a Digital World." Journal of Consumer Research: October 2013.

Related Stories

Relaxed tourists share more

May 20, 2013

Tourists set on relaxing and socialising when they reach their holiday destination tend to do little advance research on the internet before making their trip, but are more likely to share travel information and photos on ...

Mysterious Facebook event sparks online buzz

June 17, 2013

A mysterious Facebook event set for Thursday has sparked buzz that the leading social network could be adding video to Instagram smartphone picture-sharing service.

Recommended for you

On soft ground? Tread lightly to stay fast

October 8, 2015

These findings, reported today, Friday 9th October, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomechanics, offer a new insight into how animals respond to different terrain, and how robots can learn from them.

University team's robot inspired by jumping spider

October 8, 2015

Special insights and observations about how animals move, handle danger and preserve energy are not only interesting but valuable to scientists in the field of robotics. One such contribution of animal-like robotic movement ...

AI machine achieves IQ test score of young child

October 6, 2015

Some people might find it enough reason to worry; others, enough reason to be upbeat about what we can achieve in computer science; all await the next chapters in artificial intelligence to see what more a machine can do ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 28, 2013
Wait! Is someone admitting that 'they' cannot handle all that data? I mean... overshareing? And the for profits are complaining?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.