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Facebook Profiles Don't Stretch the Truth
Date:2/19/2010

Study found they closely matched the real personalities of the profile users

FRIDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Countering the notion that Internet users favor idealized virtual identities, a new study shows that people who join social networking sites such as Facebook create profiles that stick closely to the truth.

Members of such online networks may be more interested in fostering real communication and connections than peddling phony personalities, the researchers say.

"I was surprised by the findings, because the widely held assumption is that people are using their profiles to promote an enhanced impression of themselves," study co-author Sam Gosling, a personality and social psychologist in the department of psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, said in a statement. "But these findings suggest that online social networks are not so much about providing a positive spin for the profile owners, but are instead just another medium for engaging in genuine social interactions."

The study is published in the Feb. 17 online edition of Psychological Science.

According to the researchers, more than 700 million people have already posted profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Facebook alone lays claim to 400 million-plus active users, 70 percent of whom reside outside the United States. Collectively, these users share more than 5 billion pieces of content each week, and publish more than 3 billion photos each month, the site notes.

To gauge to what degree all this information accurately reflects the true personalities of those posting their profiles, the researchers saved and analyzed the profiles of 133 American members of Facebook and 103 German members of that country's popular "studiVZ" social network.

Undergraduate research assistants in both countries -- none of whom knew the social network members -- were recruited to review all the pro
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