Social media peer pressure enforces conformity to group norms

If you want the tl;dr response, stop here: social media is a pretty effective mechanism for peer pressure. If you disagree, please consider how many temporary profile pictures have been updated on Facebook to red, white, and blue in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris (including perhaps your own). We know that online peer pressure is powerful. But what we don’t know is whether that pressure is driving real change.

Sharing your opinions and thoughts online is as simple as clicking a button. But you might want to hold off on clicking that button if your opinion or thinking differs from the at-the-moment sentiment sweeping through your social network. To do otherwise, might bring the ire of your connections, and with it ostracism from the group. While it has never been easier to share online, it’s also never been harder to share things that differ from public sentiment or to not offer an opinion in the wake of emotionally charged eventsPeer pressure, which was once categorically regarded as a negative driver of drugs and deviant behavior, has morphed to a broader expression of social pressure in online spaces and is more aligned with maintaining group norms.

Source: What Do Those Temporary Facebook Profile Pictures Really Mean?

(Emphasis added in bold face text)

The above was written after the attacks in Paris but is just as relevant today after the ISIS-affiliated attack in Orlando, Florida.

Peer pressure is the same as the propaganda method of “Get on the bandwagon” (or don’t be left out or off the bandwagon).

Let us re-emphasize the last point:

Peer pressure, which was once categorically regarded as a negative driver of drugs and deviant behavior, has morphed to a broader expression of social pressure in online spaces and is more aligned with maintaining group norms.

Not having an opinion on social media is the same as having the wrong opinion! There is no escape! You must have an opinion to, among other things, signal your virtue and membership in your social media groups!

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