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The Influence of Anonymity and Incivility on Perceptions of User Comments on News Websites

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The present study examines how anonymity and incivility influence interpersonal evaluations and message persuasion in the context of online user comments. The results of two experiments showed that the lack of identity cues undermined the perceived credibility of commenters and the persuasiveness of public discussion in comment forums. Additionally, participants who read uncivil comments following a news article were more likely to negatively evaluate the commenters and the content of the online discussions compared to their counterparts exposed to civil comments. The study not only demonstrates the corrosive effects of online incivility on deliberative outcomes but also provides evidence to better explain anonymous communication from the perspective of message receivers.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Media and Communication, City University of Hong Kong,

Publication date: November 1, 2020

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