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The Means to Justify the End: 
(published in Journal of Business Ethics, 123(1), 85-98 and The Conversation, 7 July 2014) ...
Dr Tom van Laer 
Education: 
• Maastricht University 
• University of Cambridge 
• University of Nijmegen 
Professional ex...
Agenda: 1. Not-so-social media 
2. Experiment A 
3. Experiment B 
4. Making a difference
1. 
Not-so-social media
Not-so-social media 
Relevance of cyber harassment 
• Each day, 483 million users log on to Facebook. 
• Each minute, 72 h...
Tyler Clementi (18)
Izzy Dix (14)
Lisa Marie Zahra (15)
Matthew Homyk (14)
16 suicides
Not-so-social media 
Intervening in cyber harassment 
Investigation of cyber harassment is an under-exposed theme. 
Two ap...
Catch-22
Not-so-social media 
Cyber harassment in this research 
This research focuses on: 
• Informational justice perception, or ...
Not-so-social media 
Key constructs: Ingredients of the potion 
The conceptual building blocks of the work are four: 
1. I...
Experiment A 
2.
Experiment A 
Method 
Randomized 2 (identity violation) × 2 (presentation format) full-factorial design: 
• Participants: ...
Experiment A 
Procedure: 
As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate in the school regarding the issue of cyb...
Experiment A 
Procedure: 
As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate in the 
school regarding the issue of cy...
Experiment A 
Procedure: 
[Story Format] 
To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser 
posted hundreds of messages in 
...
Experiment A 
Procedure: 
[Personal Identity Violation] 
As the network provider, I believe 
something must be done to add...
Experiment A 
Procedure: 
I hope this decision will help our social network regain its status as 
a social medium with use...
Experiment A 
Procedure: 
Measures
Experiment A 
Procedure: 
As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate in the school regarding the issue of cyb...
Experiment A 
Results 
7 
6 
5 
4 
3 
2 
1 
Personal identity violation Social identity violation 
Informational justice p...
Experiment B 
3.
Experiment B 
Method 
Only personal identity violation 
Randomized 2 (presentation format) × 2 (self-referencing) full-fac...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate on the Internet regarding the issue of c...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate on the 
Internet regarding the issue of ...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
[Story Format, 
Encouraged Self-Referencing] 
To give a brief background, imagine that one cyber...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
[Story Format, 
Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] 
To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
[Analytical Format, 
Encouraged Self-Referencing] 
To give a brief background, imagine 
• being ...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
[Analytical Format, 
Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] 
To give a brief background, there have be...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
As the network provider, I believe something must be done to 
address this problem. I have decid...
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
Measures
Experiment B 
Procedure: 
As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate on the Internet regarding the issue of c...
Experiment B 
7 
6 
5 
4 
3 
2 
1 
Story format Analytical format 
Informational justice perception 
Encouraged self-refer...
4. 
Making a difference
Making a difference 
Theoretical implications of notable results 
1. Presentation format: “sorrow shared is sorrow halved”...
Making a difference 
Try it for yourself: 
Imagine a troll posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting you as...
Making a difference 
What matters; for practice and society 
To network providers: 
1. Present users with a decision based...
Besseres Hannover
Hamza Kashgari
Making a difference 
Where things get murky 
In the exercise of one’s rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only ...
The Means to Justify 
GET INVOLVED #SMWRdam 
THE FUTURE OF NOW 
Tom van Laer 
Email: tvanlaer@escpeurope.eu 
LinkedIn: uk....
Social Media Week Rotterdam - Tom van Laer - Cyber Harassment
Social Media Week Rotterdam - Tom van Laer - Cyber Harassment
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Social Media Week Rotterdam - Tom van Laer - Cyber Harassment

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Preso during Social Media Week Rotterdam :
The Means to Justify the End -
Combatting Cyber Harassment

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Social Media Week Rotterdam - Tom van Laer - Cyber Harassment

  1. 1. The Means to Justify the End: (published in Journal of Business Ethics, 123(1), 85-98 and The Conversation, 7 July 2014) GET INVOLVED #SMWRdam THE FUTURE OF NOW Combatting Cyber Harassment Tom van Laer
  2. 2. Dr Tom van Laer Education: • Maastricht University • University of Cambridge • University of Nijmegen Professional experience: • Consultant for BCG, BNP Paribas, Eurostar, IBM, etc. • Marketing Communication Officer, Maastricht University • Worked in Europe, North America, and Australia Academic experience: • Assistant Professor at ESCP Europe Business School • Visiting Scholar at University of Sydney, Australia • Author of publications on storytelling, consumer behaviour, and ethics in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Business Ethics, etc. • Reviewer for premier and leading journals • Member of the Association for Consumer Research and European Marketing Academy Contact: • Email: tvanlaer@escpeurope.eu • LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/tvanlaer/ • Twitter: @tvanlaer
  3. 3. Agenda: 1. Not-so-social media 2. Experiment A 3. Experiment B 4. Making a difference
  4. 4. 1. Not-so-social media
  5. 5. Not-so-social media Relevance of cyber harassment • Each day, 483 million users log on to Facebook. • Each minute, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. • Each second, 4050 tweets are "tweeted" out. Cyber harassment involves a course of action in which an individual or group of individuals use digital media to cause another individual to suffer emotional distress (Bocij, 2004). Worldwide, 7.8 million adults are estimated victims (Baum and colleagues, 2009). Known effects: 1. Emotional distress (Avery, 2010) 2. Exit from social network sites (Martin & Smith, 2008) 3. Suicide (Parker, 2012)
  6. 6. Tyler Clementi (18)
  7. 7. Izzy Dix (14)
  8. 8. Lisa Marie Zahra (15)
  9. 9. Matthew Homyk (14)
  10. 10. 16 suicides
  11. 11. Not-so-social media Intervening in cyber harassment Investigation of cyber harassment is an under-exposed theme. Two approaches to network provider interventions can be identified: • Advocates suggest that users (a) recognize the obligation to protect fellow users (b) view intervention as morally good stewardship (c) are tolerant of some degree of identity violation (Citron, 2009; Finn, 2004; Lipton, 2011) • Critics argue that users (a) value their freedom of expression (b) view intervention as an Orwellian reality (c) are frustrated by identity violation (Brunk, 2012; Pruitt, 2003)
  12. 12. Catch-22
  13. 13. Not-so-social media Cyber harassment in this research This research focuses on: • Informational justice perception, or the perceived adequacy of explanations for decisions (Greenberg, 1993). Adequate justification is a moral right that is frequently neglected in the case of dilemmas on the web, such as protecting one user from cyber harassment versus respecting another user’s freedom to construct an online identity without interference (Sama & Shoaf, 2002). • Framing the ways decisions to intervene are communicated to users contrasting story and analytical presentation format.
  14. 14. Not-so-social media Key constructs: Ingredients of the potion The conceptual building blocks of the work are four: 1. Identity violation (personal or social) 2. Presentation format (story or analytical) Hypothesis 1: When a decision to intervene violates personal identity, users perceive more informational justice if the decision is presented in a story format rather than an analytical format. 3. Narrative transportation Hypothesis 2: Narrative transportation mediates the effect of presentation format on informational justice perception. 4. Self-referencing strategy (encouraged or not encouraged) Hypothesis 3a: When a decision to intervene is presented in a story format, users perceive more informational justice if the decision encourages a self-referencing strategy. Hypothesis 3b: When a decision to intervene is presented in an analytical format, users perceive less informational justice if the decision encourages a self-referencing strategy.
  15. 15. Experiment A 2.
  16. 16. Experiment A Method Randomized 2 (identity violation) × 2 (presentation format) full-factorial design: • Participants: 124 social media-savvy students (comScore, 2011) • Materials: 4 wall posts on the school’s social network site signed by the network provider • Measures: narrative transportation (Green & Brock, 2000), informational justice perception (Colquitt, 2001), and control measures; manipulation check items; and demographics
  17. 17. Experiment A Procedure: As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate in the school regarding the issue of cyber harassment. [Story Format] To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting a fellow student as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under the victim’s name and left obscene messages on the victim’s own wall. Now not only the victim gets daily death threats, but so do the victim’s friends and fellow students. The victim feels humiliated, helpless, and abused and the victim’s studies and social life suffer. [Analytical Format] To give a brief background, there have been issues with • stalking of certain students, • insults, • the creation of false profiles, • obscene messages on victims’ own walls, and • widespread death threats. These cause victims emotional distress, which has harmful effects on their studies and social life. [Personal Identity Violation] As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in your personal conversations would result in you continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from your personal wall and to discontinue false profiles as well as your personal profile if your conversations are deemed inappropriate. [Social Identity Violation] As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in peer-to-peer conversations would result in users continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from user walls and to discontinue false profiles as well as user profiles if their conversations are deemed inappropriate. I hope this decision will help our social network regain its status as a social medium with users that make us proud. Measures
  18. 18. Experiment A Procedure: As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate in the school regarding the issue of cyber harassment.
  19. 19. Experiment A Procedure: [Story Format] To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting a fellow student as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under the victim’s name and left obscene messages on the victim’s own wall. Now not only the victim gets daily death threats, but so do the victim’s friends and fellow students. The victim feels humiliated, helpless, and abused and the victim’s studies and social life suffer. [Analytical Format] To give a brief background, there have been issues with • stalking of certain students, • insults, • the creation of false profiles, • obscene messages on victims’ own walls, and • widespread death threats. These cause victims emotional distress, which has harmful effects on their studies and social life.
  20. 20. Experiment A Procedure: [Personal Identity Violation] As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in your personal conversations would result in you continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from your personal wall and to discontinue false profiles as well as your personal profile if your conversations are deemed inappropriate. [Social Identity Violation] As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in peer-to-peer conversations would result in users continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from user walls and to discontinue false profiles as well as user profiles if their conversations are deemed inappropriate.
  21. 21. Experiment A Procedure: I hope this decision will help our social network regain its status as a social medium with users that make us proud.
  22. 22. Experiment A Procedure: Measures
  23. 23. Experiment A Procedure: As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate in the school regarding the issue of cyber harassment. [Story Format] To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting a fellow student as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under the victim’s name and left obscene messages on the victim’s own wall. Now not only the victim gets daily death threats, but so do the victim’s friends and fellow students. The victim feels humiliated, helpless, and abused and the victim’s studies and social life suffer. [Analytical Format] To give a brief background, there have been issues with • stalking of certain students, • insults, • the creation of false profiles, • obscene messages on victims’ own walls, and • widespread death threats. These cause victims emotional distress, which has harmful effects on their studies and social life. [Personal Identity Violation] As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in your personal conversations would result in you continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from your personal wall and to discontinue false profiles as well as your personal profile if your conversations are deemed inappropriate. [Social Identity Violation] As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in peer-to-peer conversations would result in users continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from user walls and to discontinue false profiles as well as user profiles if their conversations are deemed inappropriate. I hope this decision will help our social network regain its status as a social medium with users that make us proud. Measures
  24. 24. Experiment A Results 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Personal identity violation Social identity violation Informational justice perception Story format Analytical format condition > narrative transportation > informational justice perception: point estimate = .42, BCa 95% CI = .15–.76
  25. 25. Experiment B 3.
  26. 26. Experiment B Method Only personal identity violation Randomized 2 (presentation format) × 2 (self-referencing) full-factorial design: • Participants: 233 social media-savvy students (comScore, 2011) • Materials: 4 wall posts on the school’s social network site signed by the network provider • Measures: narrative transportation (Green & Brock, 2000), informational justice perception (Colquitt, 2001), and control measures; manipulation check items; and demographics
  27. 27. Experiment B Procedure: As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate on the Internet regarding the issue of cyber harassment on your favourite social network. [Story Format, Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, imagine that one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting you as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under your name and left obscene messages on your own wall. Now not only you get daily death threats, but so do your friends and fellow students. You feel humiliated, helpless, and abused and your studies and social life suffer. [Analytical Format, Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, imagine • being stalked, • insulted, • a false profile created under your name, • obscene messages on your own wall, and • widespread death threats. These cause you emotional distress, which has harmful effects on your studies and social life. [Story Format, Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting a fellow student as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under the victim’s name and left obscene messages on the victim’s own wall. Now not only the victim gets daily death threats, but so do the victim’s friends and fellow students. The victim feels humiliated, helpless, and abused and the victim’s studies and social life suffer. [Analytical Format, Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, there have been issues with • stalking of certain students, • insults, • the creation of false profiles, • obscene messages on victims’ own walls, and • widespread death threats. These cause victims emotional distress, which has harmful effects on their studies and social life. As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in your personal conversations would result in you continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from your personal wall and to discontinue false profiles as well as your personal profile if your conversations are deemed inappropriate. I hope this decision will help our social network regain its status as a social medium with users that make us proud. Measures
  28. 28. Experiment B Procedure: As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate on the Internet regarding the issue of cyber harassment on your favourite social network.
  29. 29. Experiment B Procedure: [Story Format, Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, imagine that one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting you as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under your name and left obscene messages on your own wall. Now not only you get daily death threats, but so do your friends and fellow students. You feel humiliated, helpless, and abused and your studies and social life suffer.
  30. 30. Experiment B Procedure: [Story Format, Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting a fellow student as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under the victim’s name and left obscene messages on the victim’s own wall. Now not only the victim gets daily death threats, but so do the victim’s friends and fellow students. The victim feels humiliated, helpless, and abused and the victim’s studies and social life suffer.
  31. 31. Experiment B Procedure: [Analytical Format, Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, imagine • being stalked, • insulted, • a false profile created under your name, • obscene messages on your own wall, and • widespread death threats. These cause you emotional distress, which has harmful effects on your studies and social life.
  32. 32. Experiment B Procedure: [Analytical Format, Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, there have been issues with • stalking of certain students, • insults, • the creation of false profiles, • obscene messages on victims’ own walls, and • widespread death threats. These cause victims emotional distress, which has harmful effects on their studies and social life.
  33. 33. Experiment B Procedure: As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in your personal conversations would result in you continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from your personal wall and to discontinue false profiles as well as your personal profile if your conversations are deemed inappropriate. I hope this decision will help our social network regain its status as a social medium with users that make us proud.
  34. 34. Experiment B Procedure: Measures
  35. 35. Experiment B Procedure: As you may be aware, there has been considerable debate on the Internet regarding the issue of cyber harassment on your favourite social network. [Story Format, Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, imagine that one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting you as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under your name and left obscene messages on your own wall. Now not only you get daily death threats, but so do your friends and fellow students. You feel humiliated, helpless, and abused and your studies and social life suffer. [Analytical Format, Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, imagine • being stalked, • insulted, • a false profile created under your name, • obscene messages on your own wall, and • widespread death threats. These cause you emotional distress, which has harmful effects on your studies and social life. [Story Format, Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, one cyber-harasser posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting a fellow student as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the harasser created a profile under the victim’s name and left obscene messages on the victim’s own wall. Now not only the victim gets daily death threats, but so do the victim’s friends and fellow students. The victim feels humiliated, helpless, and abused and the victim’s studies and social life suffer. [Analytical Format, Not Encouraged Self-Referencing] To give a brief background, there have been issues with • stalking of certain students, • insults, • the creation of false profiles, • obscene messages on victims’ own walls, and • widespread death threats. These cause victims emotional distress, which has harmful effects on their studies and social life. As the network provider, I believe something must be done to address this problem. I have decided that not intervening in your personal conversations would result in you continuing to behave inappropriately. Thus, I have decided to delete insulting, obscene, or threatening messages from your personal wall and to discontinue false profiles as well as your personal profile if your conversations are deemed inappropriate. I hope this decision will help our social network regain its status as a social medium with users that make us proud. Measures
  36. 36. Experiment B 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Story format Analytical format Informational justice perception Encouraged self-referencing Not encouraged self-referencing Results condition > narrative transportation > informational justice perception: point estimate = .16, BCa 95% CI = .06–.28
  37. 37. 4. Making a difference
  38. 38. Making a difference Theoretical implications of notable results 1. Presentation format: “sorrow shared is sorrow halved” but only when users process analytical formats. Social media users who read a transporting story of cyber harassment empathize with the victim, which leads to a lack of awareness of their own identity. 2. Narrative transportation: narrative transportation mediates the presentation format effect on informational justice perceptions. Thus, a story need not be general to be transporting: rather, when a cyber-harassment story is transporting, the negative effects of decisions violating users’ identity are negligible. 3. Self-referencing: self-referencing moderates the presentation format effect. These findings suggest that self-referencing leads users to scrutinize information extensively when presented with an analytical format but to imagine themselves as the main character when presented with a story.
  39. 39. Making a difference Try it for yourself: Imagine a troll posted hundreds of messages in the past month, depicting you as a talentless, sex-crazed swindler. Then the bully created a profile under your name and left obscene messages on your own wall. Now not only you get daily death threats, but so do your family and friends. You feel humiliated, helpless, and abused and your professional and social lives suffer. Wouldn’t you want someone to intervene?
  40. 40. Making a difference What matters; for practice and society To network providers: 1. Present users with a decision based on a transporting story of cyber harassment. 2. Start with an expression such as “Imagine yourself…” (Escalas, 2004). 3. Draw a clear line between benign teasing and cyber harassment.
  41. 41. Besseres Hannover
  42. 42. Hamza Kashgari
  43. 43. Making a difference Where things get murky In the exercise of one’s rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (Article 29, section 2, International Bill of Human Rights, 1948)
  44. 44. The Means to Justify GET INVOLVED #SMWRdam THE FUTURE OF NOW Tom van Laer Email: tvanlaer@escpeurope.eu LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/tvanlaer Twitter: @tvanlaer

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