Many of us befriend easily on the social networks. Some of our online “friends” are people whom we know, friends of our friends or even complete strangers with seemingly common interests.
A survey from NM Incite, a Nielsen McKinsey company specializing in data on social media, that surveyed over 1,800 social media users found that 82 percent of Facebookers “friend” people they recognize in real life, while 60 percent link with mutual friends.
The study investigated why people friend and unfriend on Facebook and unveiled that a small percentage of users employs far less private metrics to decide who to include in their online social circles. Eight percent of survey respondents had friended people, because of how physically appealing they are, while 7 percent friend people simply to boost their number of Facebook populiarity, 7 percent said they “friend everyone,” and 7 percent responded that they will add someone on Facebook because of the “quality of the photo.”
“Offensive comments” and a lack of knowledge about a person are the top two reasons people unfriend on Facebook, according to NM Incite’s research. People were also more likely to be disturbed by the character of the content friends shared, rather than the frequency of it: 23 percent said they unfriended people over “depressing comments” and 14 percent unfriended over “political comments,” while just 6 percent unfriended because someone had posted too frequently.
A 2011 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project examining people’s social ties on Facebook also found that Facebook users frequently connect with individuals they already know.
The average Facebook user has 229 friends, 89 percent of whom they’ve met in person more than once, while a full 7 percent is people, the user has never encountered personally. The “largest single group of Facebook friends consists of people from high school,” according to Pew, which noted that, on average, Facebook users have 56 friends from high school, 30 from college or university, and 15 from work.
Though no one likes to lose a friend, unfriending on Facebook has grown in popularity recently, along with Facebook’s rocketing user base.