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Facebook Users Take 'Unfriending' Seriously, Survey Finds

TUESDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Many people say they would avoid real-life contact with someone who unfriended them on Facebook, a new study finds.

"People think social networks are just for fun, but ... what you do on those sites can have real-world consequences," study author Christopher Sibona said in a news release from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Sibona, a doctoral student in the university's Computer Science and Information Systems program, looked at almost 600 survey responses gathered via Twitter and found that 40 percent of respondents said they would avoid in real life anyone who unfriended them on Facebook. Half said they would not avoid the person and 10 percent were unsure.

Women were more likely than men to avoid people who unfriended them, according to the study, which was released earlier this month at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Six factors predicted whether someone would avoid a person who unfriended them:

  • If the person who did the unfriending discussed the event later.
  • If the unfriended person had an extremely negative emotional response.
  • If the unfriended person believed the action was because of their offline behavior.
  • If relationship trouble was discussed prior to the unfriending.
  • How strong the person valued the relationship before the unfriending.
  • The geographical distance between the two.

"The No. 1 predictor was whether the person who said the relationship was over talked about it to someone else," Sibona said. "Talking to someone is a public declaration that the friendship is over."

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines how parents should talk to their children about social media.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Colorado, Denver, news release, Feb. 4, 2013

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Facebook Users Take 'Unfriending' Seriously, Survey Finds
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