Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 85–98 | Cite as

The Means to Justify the End: Combating Cyber Harassment in Social Media

  • Tom van Laer


Cyber harassment can have harmful effects on social media users, such as emotional distress and, consequently, withdrawal from social network sites or even life itself. At the same time, users are often upset when network providers intervene and deem such an intrusion an unjust occurrence. This article analyzes how decisions to intervene can be communicated in such a way that users consider them adequate and acceptable. A first experiment shows that informational justice perceptions of social network users depend on the format in which network providers present the decision to intervene. More specifically, if a decision to intervene is presented in the form of a story, as opposed to an analytical rendering of facts and arguments, decisions to intervene prompt more positive informational justice perceptions. A second experiment reveals that when users relate the experience to themselves, narrative transportation increases, which positively affects perceptions of the justice of decisions to intervene.


Cyber bullying Cyber harassment Identity Justice perception Narrative transportation Self-referencing Social media Storytelling 



The author gratefully acknowledges the suggestions of Katja Brunk, Ko de Ruyter, Joëlle Vanhamme, and Martin Wetzels on a previous version of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MarketingESCP Europe Business SchoolLondonUK

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