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Social networking snubs can trigger ‘unfriending’

Sun., Aug. 28, 2011

Social networking sites are great for maintaining and renewing relationships. But Facebook and other sites can also lead to shattered relationships.

According to a new study, the three most-common negative experiences are:

• Ignoring or denying “friend” requests.

• Deleting public messages or identification tags.

• Seeing a “Top Friends” list on which one doesn’t appear or is ranked lower than expected.

In a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Robert S. Tokunaga of the University of Arizona surveyed 197 college students concerning their social networking experiences.

More than one-quarter said they had been denied or been ignored regarding a “friend” request, and just under 25 percent had someone delete a public message or identification tag.

All three of the major negative experiences are ones that can be found only in the world of social networking, Tokunaga points out. In real life, one does not walk up to another person and ask to “friend” him or her.

“People using social networking sites are unable to apply their own knowledge of social norms in offline settings to the online domain,” he says.

Still, it pays to know which social networking behaviors are liable to irritate others, Tokunaga says.

“It is not advisable to engage in these acts without presenting a legitimate reason for the behaviors,” he says.


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