Muzzling Social Media: The Adverse Effects of Moderating Stakeholder Conversations Online

Alexander Buhmann*, Kateryna Maltseva, Christian Fieseler, Matthes Fleck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Many organizations struggle to meaningfully engage with their stakeholders on political, societal and environmental topics via social media. Often such discourses unravel into splintered and negative conversations, raising the question whether organizations can and should exercise some level of control and ‘steering’ in these conversations and, if so, how stakeholders would react to such ‘top down’ moderation. Existing studies lack empirical insights into the impacts of different levels of moderation in social media conversations on stakeholder attitudes. Two experimental studies were developed to test the effect of different levels of organizational moderation on stakeholder attitudes towards organizations. We show that increased levels of moderation negatively affect attitudes towards an organization, satisfaction with an organization's performance, and trust in the organization. Increased moderation also significantly undermines beliefs in the commitment of the organization to its stakeholders and control mutuality. This paper extends recent qualitative attempts to build new theory around stakeholder dialogues on social media by testing the effects of varying levels of moderation in such dialogues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101490
JournalTechnology in Society
Volume64
Number of pages11
ISSN0160-791X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Social media
  • Online dialogue
  • Corporate behavior
  • Content moderation
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Experiments

Cite this