Recent evidence suggests that auditors access social media platforms habitually throughout the workday. While exploratory research has found concerning effects related to social media usage, existing research has not investigated how viewing social media content might affect auditors. Using an experiment that holds social media usage constant, we examine how social media content impacts auditors' task performance. Relying on social comparison theory, we predict and find that the collection and evaluation of audit evidence (an integral component of audit quality) suffers when auditors view posts of peers' rewarding social experiences compared to those who do not view such content. In a further test of our theory, we demonstrate that evidence collection is preserved when auditors view posts made by other accountants in a professional setting alongside posts featuring peers' rewarding social experiences. Given the audit quality consequences of our results, these findings have implications for practitioners, academics, and regulators.
JEL Classifications: M40; M41; M42.