Facebook’s Cognitive Dissonance (Stop Implicit Sharing)


Facebook’s user’s privacy is paramount. This privacy includes making sure that browsing Facebook is never shown to other users. One of the most important parts of Facebook is that we can all browse it freely and without consequence. When we decide to take an action such as commenting on a photo, it is then that we make ourselves known. This kind of actions is called explicit actions. The simplest action being, I like this. However, the current Facebook newsfeed is a whole different story. It shows everything one listens to, read, browse, buy, and many activities that one might not want or prefer to be showed up. The problem is that people don’t even realize that these activities are being showed up. One of these that one would never like to be showed, for example, is how many times you have visited a specific person’s profile, especially if this person is the ex-boyfriend or the ex-girlfriend. This kind of actions is called implicit actions.

This gap between how the person needs to see him/her and the cognitive distortions that occur as a result of these implicit actions causes cognitive dissonance. According to the cognitive dissonance theory, basic human motives and self-esteem approach, people always want to maintain positive self-image, and if any evidence appeared to contradict this image, people might experience dissonance. People try to reduce dissonance by changing their behavior to bring it in line with their cognition about themselves and stop visiting the websites and doing the activities that they wouldn’t like to share. Or, justify their behavior by changing one of their cognitions and rationalizing. Convincing one that this activity’s sharing would not harm one’s positive image is an example. Or, justify the behavior by inventing new cognition and focusing on a positive quality to offset feelings of having acted foolishly, self-affirmation. Cognitive dissonance, in the case of having no reward, stimulates internal justification in general because of the absence of external justification.

Implicit actions require you to behave differently. Every time you do something that might potentially show up on Facebook, you have to think to yourself, do I want this to appear on Facebook? You also need to think about who will see it. Our network of friends is expanding. One may have visited a specific website, which asked for permissions, and then after months you are surprised to find it posting things on your wall that you wouldn’t allow them to be posted with your controlled thinking because they might cause discomfort. In many times I myself sometimes experience postdecision dissonance after agreeing to a website’s permission because I feel it might threaten my self-image later (because of implicit sharing). Then I start justifying, thereby increasing the likelihood of agreeing to the permissions again.



chasen, b. (2013). Facebook’s Cognitive Dissonance with Sharing. chilly.



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