Outcomes of Cyber-Victimization and Bystander Reactions in Online Brand Communities

Nuttakon Ounvorawong, Jan Breitsohl, Ben Lowe, and Des Laffey
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 26, Number 2, 2022, pp. 200-221.


Online brand communities such as Facebook fan pages show an increasing level of cyber-victimization, which is where a community member is bullied by another member. Based on the cyber-victimization literature in psychology, we designed an experiment that explores how cyber-victimization affects three commercial outcomes, namely, a victim’s positive word-of-mouth intentions, community satisfaction, and community following intentions. Using a survey of 387 community members with past cyber-victimization experiences, our results show that outcomes differ significantly in relation to the severity of cyber-victimization (severe vs. mild) and the reactions (defending vs. reinforcing vs. pretending) from bystanders (i.e., uninvolved community members who witness the cyber-victimization incident). Our findings offer brand managers a better understanding of the undesirable effects of cyber-victimization in online brand communities, and of the type of reactions from bystanders that they may wish to encourage.