Seeking Justice on the Web : How News Media and Social Norms Drive the Practice of Cyber Vigilantism

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-672
Journal / PublicationSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number6
Online published14 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


Cyber vigilantism, in particular crowdsourced vigilantism, is a newly emerging practice whereby people expose misconducts and identify culprits through collaboratively searching and publicizing information using the Internet. This study proposes a theory-oriented framework with which we demonstrate that individuals’ media exposure and perceived social norms may interact and jointly predict their reception of and reactions to the practice. We tested the framework with web survey data of 800 adults in Taiwan. Results showed that the frequency and the ways in which the press covers cyber vigilantism were both directly and indirectly associated with individuals’ acceptance of or resistance to cyber vigilantism. The indirect associations were mediated by individuals’ evaluations and perceived social acceptance of the practice. We suggest that obtaining favorable news coverage is essential for cyber vigilantism to gain acceptance and attract crowds. When modeling or predicting the structure and evolving process of this newly emerging cyber practice, researchers may want to consider the overall media environment, social context, and personal evaluations.

Research Area(s)

  • cyber vigilantism, media effect, persuasive press inference, privacy protection, social media, social norms