While public transit is a major place where people devote their time to smartphones, particularly social media usage, the literature has paid scant attention to how contextual factors in public transit affect the individual usage behavior of social media. Building upon prior literature on stress and social media as a stress reliever, this study examines the impact of physical crowdedness on users’ content consumption and generation behaviors on social media platforms. In collaboration with a major wireless telecom provider in China, we collect detailed information on smartphone usage behavior among 200,000 randomly selected individuals on a major public subway line in Qingdao, China. The results demonstrate a positive causal relationship between crowdedness and content consumption and generation on social media platforms, even after controlling for potential endogeneity of crowdedness.


Paper Number 1228; Track E-Business; Complete Paper



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