When 'friends' collide: social heterogeneity and user vulnerability on social network sites

Buglass, S.L. ORCID: 0000-0002-1079-8461, Binder, J.F. ORCID: 0000-0002-1083-7109, Betts, L.R. ORCID: 0000-0002-6147-8089 and Underwood, J.D.M. ORCID: 0000-0002-6895-0251, 2016. When 'friends' collide: social heterogeneity and user vulnerability on social network sites. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, pp. 62-72. ISSN 0747-5632

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The present study examines how the use of social network sites (SNS) increases the potential of experiencing psychological, reputational and physical vulnerability online. From our theoretical perspective, concerns over the use of social network sites and online vulnerability stem from the ease with which users can amass large and diverse sets of online social connections and the associated maintenance costs . To date most studies of online vulnerability have relied on self -rep ort measures, rarely combining such information with user’s validated digital characteristics. Here, f or a stratified sample of 177 UK-based Facebook users aged 1 3 to 77, digitally derived network data , coded for content and subjected to structural analysis, were integrated with self -report measures of social network heterogeneity and user vulnerability. Findings indicated a positive association between Facebook network size and online vulnerability mediated by both social diversity and structural features of the network . In particular, network clustering and the number of non- person contacts were predictive of vulnerability. Our findings support the notion that connecting to large networks of online ‘friends’ can lead to increasingly complex online socialising that is no longer controllable at a desirable level.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Computers in Human Behavior
Creators: Buglass, S.L., Binder, J.F., Betts, L.R. and Underwood, J.D.M.
Publisher: Pergamon Press
Place of Publication: Oxford
Date: January 2016
Volume: 54
ISSN: 0747-5632
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 28 Oct 2015 10:34
Last Modified: 01 May 2020 09:15
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/26014

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