Display of alcohol use on Facebook: a content analysis

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2013 Jul;16(7):497-503. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2013.0044. Epub 2013 Apr 25.


The present study has two main objectives. First, to examine how alcohol use is portrayed in the visual and textual references on Facebook, and second, to determine how friends react to these alcohol-related postings. A theoretically based content analysis of 160 Facebook profiles generated 2,575 pictures and 92 status updates referring to alcohol use, which represented about 6.50% of the pictures in the total sample and 2.90% of the status updates. These visual and textual references, as well as the peer reactions to these posts, mostly referred to alcohol use in a positive context (72.23% of the pictures and 72.83% of the messages). Furthermore, multiple regression analyses identified the number of Facebook friends and the number of status updates referring to alcohol use as significant predictors of the total number of uploaded pictures containing alcohol use. The results of this study are discussed within the framework of expectancy models of behavior and media effects theories, and show that alcohol-related references are quite common, while negative reactions to these posts are seldom. Further research into the effects of these visual and textual messages is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking* / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking* / psychology
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Group
  • Photography
  • Social Media* / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult