Anonymity plays an increasingly important role on social media. This is reflected by more and more applications enabling anonymous interactions. However, do social media users behave different when they are anonymous? In our research, we investigated social media services meant for solely anonymous use (Jodel) and for widely spread non-anonymous sharing of pictures and videos (Instagram). This study examines the impact of anonymity on the behavior of users on Jodel compared to their non-anonymous use of Instagram as well as the differences between the user types: producer, consumer, and participant. Our approach is based on the uses and gratifications theory (U>) by E. Katz, specifically on the sought gratifications (motivations) of self-presentation, information, socialization, and entertainment. Since Jodel is mostly used in Germany, we developed an online survey in German. The questions addressed the three different user types and were subdivided according to the four motivation categories of the U>. In total 664 test persons completed the questionnaire. The results show that anonymity indeed influences users' usage behavior depending on user types and different U> categories.
user behavior; anonymity; social media; uses and gratifications theory; identifiability; user roles
Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice;Volume 6 Issue 3