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social media, ostracism, exclusion, Likes, paralinguistic digital affordances


This research explores the processes of perceived ostracism ensuing from a lack of feedback via paralinguistic digital affordances (PDAs), the one-click tools (e.g., Likes and +1s) which are one of the most used features of social media, provided to an individual’s posted social media content. The positive and negative psychological outcomes of social media communication have been well-documented. However, as social media have become entrenched as some of our most common communication channels, the absence of communication via social media has been underexplored and may have negative psychological and communicative outcomes. We utilized focus groups (N = 37) to examine perceptions of ostracism when individuals did not receive PDAs to their posted content across social media platforms. Participants reported feeling excluded only when they did not receive PDAs from select relationally close or socially superior network members, suggesting audience targeting and expectations when posting. Users frequently attributed low PDA counts to system and content factors. These results contribute to a developing understanding of the psychological effects of lack of communication via social media and provide insight for future research, demonstrating that social exclusion may not manifest from a complete lack of social interaction but rather may occur when individuals do not receive expected or desired feedback.


This article was published in Social Media + Society 4, no. 3 (2018): 1-12. DOI:

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