Explanations for the perpetration of and reactions to deception in a virtual community

Joinson, Adam N. and Dietz-Uhler, Beth (2002). Explanations for the perpetration of and reactions to deception in a virtual community. Social Science Computer Review, 20(3) pp. 275–289.

URL: http://ssc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/20/3/2...


Cases of identity deception on the Internet are not uncommon. Several cases of a revealed identitydeception have been reported in the media. In this article, the authors examine a case of deception in anonline community composed primarily of information technology professionals. In this case, anestablished community member (DF) invented a character (Nowheremom)whom he fell in love withand who was eventually killed in a tragic accident. When other members of the community eventuallybegan to question Nowheremom's actual identity, DF admitted that he invented her. The discussionboard was flooded with reactions to DF's revelation. The authors propose several explanations for theperpetration of identity deception, including psychiatric illness, identity play, and expressions of trueself. They also analyze the reactions of community members and propose three related explanations(social identity, deviance, and norm violation) to account for their reactions. It is argued that virtualcommunities' reactions to such threatening events provide invaluable clues for the study of group processeson the Internet.

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