Muzzling social media: The adverse effects of moderating stakeholder conversations online
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionTechnology in society. 2021, 64:101490 1-11. 10.1016/j.techsoc.2020.101490
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.