Shaming behavior in online communities: exploring a new configuration of digital conversations

Osnat Roth-Cohen, Tsuriel Rashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This research aims to conceptualize online shaming discourse in virtual communities and to serve as a practical guide for online community managers and members. Design/methodology/approach: This conceptual study explores the construction of meanings in human interaction in online communities by presenting a conceptual model, “The Triple-Responsibility Model in Online Communities,” that is based on Kantian ethics. Findings: The model includes characterizing the roles of core participants in online communities: writer, reader and group manager; and delineating four ethical principles – truth, necessity, proportionality and caution – that can help society find the golden mean between social change and respecting human dignity and concern for an individual’s public image and provide a theoretical contribution and practical guidelines. Research limitations/implications: It addresses shaming in virtual communities by suggesting a balance of several key principles, including truth, necessity, proportionality and caution. This is a new conceptualization of online shaming relevant to today's digital arena. Practical implications: The guidelines can contribute to the ongoing political debate over what constitutes appropriate and justified regulation. Moreover, Facebook community leaders are responsible for formatting the group’s identity, the technical facets of group management and for setting group boundaries and determining the rules of participation. The posited rules may affect social media group managers, as they are called upon to leverage their privileged position and channel their media power into influencing online discourse. Social implications: The current study provides insights into how shaming can be used as a legitimate tool in society by implementing an ethical approach, resulting in guidelines that restrict online discourse for participants in virtual communities and affect the work of social media group managers and policymakers. Originality/value: By presenting a new conceptual model, the authors suggest that ethics are a helpful tool and offer insights into how online communities' participants and managers should use their voice and balance between shaming and maintaining the dignity of the individual.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOnline Information Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Digital media
  • Ethics
  • Facebook
  • Online communities
  • Shaming behavior
  • Social media


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