Objective: This study investigated whether self-reports of alcohol-related postings on Facebook by oneself or one's Facebook friends were related to common motives for drinking and were uniquely predictive of self-reported alcohol outcomes (alcohol consumption, problems, and cravings).
Method: Pacific Northwest undergraduates completed a survey of alcohol outcomes, drinking motives, and alcohol-related Facebook postings. Participants completed the survey online as part of a larger study on alcohol use and cognitive associations. Participants were randomly selected through the university registrar's office and consisted of 1,106 undergraduates (449 men, 654 women, 2 transgender, 1 declined to answer) between the ages of 18 and 25 years (M = 20.40, SD = 1.60) at a large university in the Pacific Northwest. Seven participants were excluded from analyses because of missing or suspect data.
Results: Alcohol-related postings on Facebook were significantly correlated with social, enhancement, conformity, and coping motives for drinking (all ps < .001). After drinking motives were controlled for, self-alcohol-related postings independently and positively predicted the number of drinks per week, alcohol-related problems, risk of alcohol use disorders, and alcohol cravings (all ps < .001). In contrast, friends' alcohol-related postings only predicted the risk of alcohol use disorders (p < .05) and marginally predicted alcohol-related problems (p = .07).
Conclusions: Posting alcohol-related content on social media platforms such as Facebook is associated with common motivations for drinking and is, in itself, a strong predictive indicator of drinking outcomes independent of drinking motives. Moreover, self-related posting activity appears to be more predictive than Facebook friends' activity. These findings suggest that social media platforms may be a useful target for future preventative and intervention efforts.