Investigating “message forwarding behavior” of mobile phone users

Exploring the link between message content, user sentiment, and user intention to forward messages on social media-based instant messaging platforms

  • Devendra Dilip Potnis University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • Bhakti Gala Central University of Gujarat, India
  • Kanchan Deosthali University of Mary Washington
Keywords: Information dissemination, Forwarding messages, Misinformation, Social media, University students, WhatsApp, Mobile phones, India


In an online survey, 108 mobile phone users in the age bracket of 18 to 21 in India reported their emotional responses to six humorous, warning, and philosophical messages in real time. Using open coding, researchers coded respondents’ sentiments into positive, negative, and neutral categories and traced their effect on (a) the respondents’ intention to forward the messages, which was captured in real time; and, (b) potential recipients of the forwarded messages. Findings inform the research on electronic word-of-mouth on social media-based instant messaging platforms and mobile phones. Implications in terms of identifying and containing the spread of misinformation on social media are discussed.

Author Biographies

Devendra Dilip Potnis, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Devendra Dilip Potnis is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. His research focuses on the adoption of information tools, resources, and services by students, marginalized communities, libraries, microfinance, and governments. He has published his research in Communications of the AIS, First Monday, Government Information Quarterly, Information Development, Information Processing & Management, IT and Libraries, IT for Development, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, Journal of Library & Information Science, LIS Research, Telematics and Informatics, The Information Society, and other reputed journals. He has received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, OCLC, and ALISE.

Bhakti Gala, Central University of Gujarat, India

Bhakti Gala is an Assistant Professor in the Central University of Gujarat, India. She obtained her doctoral degree in library and information science from the M.S. University of Baroda. Her research interests include digital libraries and the application of social media by libraries. She has presented research at over 10 national and international conferences. She is the winner of 2014 International Paper Contest held by SIG-III, Association of Information Science and Technology. She has also served as a project manager for an international research project funded by OCLC and ALISE.

Kanchan Deosthali, University of Mary Washington

Kanchan Deosthali is an Associate Professor of Management at the College of Business, University of Mary Washington. She obtained her doctoral degree in organizational behavior from the School of Business, University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research interests include citizenship behaviors, employee training and development activities, IT adoption by students and US small businesses, and e-book adoption. She has published her applied research in venues such as Journal of Business and Psychology, First Monday, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, Southern Management Association, World Conference on e-learning, Association of the Global Management Studies, and Association for Information Science & Technology.

How to Cite
Potnis, D. D., Gala, B., & Deosthali, K. (2020). Investigating “message forwarding behavior” of mobile phone users. First Monday, 25(8).