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Social media doesn't get you more friends

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Everyone knows someone with thousands of friends on Facebook but most people actually stick to the same number of friends as they have in real life, according to a new UK-based study. The researcher surveyed more than 3,000 adults with social media accounts and found that the realistic limit of 150 friends - known as Dunbar's number - also applies online. He suggests that this is because friendships ultimately require occasional face-to-face interaction if they are to be maintained over time.

Journal/conference: Royal Society Open Science

Organisation/s: University of Oxford, UK

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Do online social media cut through the constraints that limit the size of offline social networks?

Everyone knows someone who has thousands of friends on Facebook. I tested this urban myth on two national stratified UK samples of internet users, but found that the average number of friends on Facebook approximates the natural size of personal social networks (namely, 150 individuals, or Dunbar's Number). This suggests that the constraints that limit the number of friends we can have in the everyday offline world also limit the number we have online. I suggest that this is because friendships ultimately require occasional face-to-face interaction if they are to be maintained over time.

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    Socialmedia_PR_RSOS.doc, 29.0 KB
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