Virtual trust

Persuasion in social media


  • Marta Vero University of Pisa



trust, internet, Rhetoric, Orality, Bodily turn


With this paper I aim to deal with the theme of trust on the Internet by associating it to the invention of classical rhetoric in Aristotle’s thought. I argue that the latest technical developments of the Internet, which have provided a progressive introduction of orality and bodily performance to the Web, aspire to make the Internet a more trustworthy place than it was before. Aristotle had already discovered the tight nexus between trust and bodily-oral performance. This connection was indeed one of the fundamental tasks of the classical rhetor. I claim that this Aristotelian nexus has been maintained through modernity and employed in the Web 2.0 bodily turn, or in its use as an oral register of communication. In conclusion, I refer to Instagram celebrities (“influencers”) to examine their use of the bodily performance to promote purchases or ideas, and to gain the trust of the users in order to gain real leverage over their on- and offline life.