The Role of Pseudonymity in Mobile e-Participation

AbstractIn addition to lack of knowledge and trust in official authorities, privacy concerns are among the reasons for non-participation in public discourse. Mitigating these barriers is important when aiming to promote and ultimately increase public participation. Through the lens of a long-term field study with a mobile participation prototype, this research investigated citizens' participation patterns in relation to their choice in username (real name vs. pseudonym). Our data suggests that while engagement served less socializing purposes, social appreciation was not affected by pseudonymity. Interestingly, those participating with their real-name lost trust in the local government. Overall, we found no evidence that pseudonymity impacts the level of participation, but participants indicated to favor using a pseudonym in the future.

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