The No. 1 reason why friends dump friends on Facebook is when they get fed up seeing too many useless posts, according to new research out of the University of Colorado Denver Business School.
Posts about polarizing subjects such as politics and religion as well as inappropriate and racist comments also sever many Facebook relationships, according to Christopher Sibona, a PhD student in the Computer and Science and Information Systems program.
“Researchers spend a lot of time examining how people form friendships online but little is known on how those relationships end,” said Sibona, whose research will be published in January by the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. “Perhaps this will help us develop a theory of the entire cycle of friending and unfriending.”
Facebook, the subject of the current box office hit The Social Network, is hotter than ever at 500 million users strong. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has zoomed up the Forbes list of richest Americans, appeared on The Simpsons this past weekend, and he recently donated $100 million for an education initiative. Facebook is keeping the buzz going this week as well by issuing an invitation on Monday to a mystery event on Wednesday that some think could be about the rumored Facebook phone.
Sibona surveyed more than 1,500 Facebook users to get to the bottom of why people dump each other. Not surprisingly, people who flood others with posts are at great risk of being unfriended.
“The 100th post about your favorite band is no longer interesting,” he said.
The study showed that 57 percent of people unfriended as a result of online actions and that those who make friend requests are more at risk of being suddenly unfriended.
Sibona found mixed reactions by those who have been unfriended, largely dependent upon who did the deed and why.
While millions have enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones on Facebook, the social network has also brought with it many headaches, including those perpetrated by malware writers and other scammers.
As for the business school angle on this study, Associate Professor Steven Walczak said: “With businesses embracing Facebook as a marketing and customer-relationship tool, this will hopefully create new research that further examines how social networks enhance business decision making and outcomes.”