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Who prefers anonymous self-expression online? A survey-based study of Finns aged 15–30 years

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The dominance of computer-mediated communication in the online relational landscape continues to affect millions of users; yet, few studies have identified and analyzed characteristics shared by those specifically valuing its anonymous aspects for self-expression. This article identifies and investigates key characteristics of such users through online survey by two samples of Finnish users of social networking sites aged 15–30 years (n = 1013; 544). Various characteristics espoused by those especially valuing anonymity for self-expression online were identified and analyzed in relation to the users in question. Favoring anonymity was positively correlated with both grandiosity, a component of narcissism, and low self-esteem. In addition, users with stronger anonymity preference tended to be younger, highly trusting, having strong ties to online communities while having few offline friends. Findings emphasize the significance of a deeper understanding of how anonymity effects and attracts users seeking its benefits while also providing new insights into how user characteristics interact depending on motivation.
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Keywords: anonymity; internet; social networking; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Turku, FI,-20014, Finland 2: School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Tampere, FI,-33014, Finland

Publication date: June 3, 2015

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