The inclusion of new technologies and the internet in people’s daily lives has led to important changes in many areas : the way we shop, the way we study, the way we entertain ourselves, etc.

In addition, because of the Internet, and specifically social networks, there has been a change in the way we relate to others, and it has allowed us to meet many new people, people from all corners of the world.

Facebook makes friends… and enemies

But social networks not only allow us to make new friends, but also to undo them . Research from the University of Colorado Denver (USA) has provided information on why some people delete their friendships from Facebook.

As concluded in the study, ” They tend to do so because they consider that the opinions expressed by the other person on religion or politics are very radical” . This happens more often with classmates in high school .

Your political ideology could be the main cause of ‘exclusion’ on Facebook

Facebook’s status and opinions are an opportunity to show our face to the world and are a chance to express what we feel and what we think. Ever since Facebook burst into the lives of all of us, those of us who connect to this social network on a daily basis are constantly seeing the statuses of our contacts updated.

In this sense, we can repeatedly see their opinions on politics, and we see reflected their beliefs and most deeply rooted values . We can also see his opinions in the different groups or posts, coming to appreciate his radicalism behind his words. It seems, then, that political ideology is a fundamental cause for which we erase some friendships.This can become tiresome and irritating, causing us to decide to eliminate contact with our friends.

Reasons for being removed from Facebook

The study was published in February 2014, and was conducted by sociologist Christopher Sibona for the University of Colorado at Denver. It was conducted in two phases: the first part of the study examined the context and profile of the eliminated individuals; and the second phase focused on the emotional responses of the people who had been eliminated .

The data was analyzed after a survey was conducted with 1,077 subjects participating via Twitter.

First phase of the study

Which friends are more likely to go through the ‘guillotine’?

The results of the first study indicated that the individuals who had been eliminated most frequently were (in order of highest to lowest):

  • Friends of the Institute
  • Other friends
  • Friends of Friends
  • Friends of Work
  • Friends of common interests

With respect to friends who work in the same company, “we found that people eliminate co-workers because of real-world actions rather than because of comments on social networks,” Sibona explained. According to him, one of the reasons high school friends are the most eliminated on social networks is because their political and religious beliefs may not have been as strong at previous ages. At this stage of life, beliefs become stronger and friends are more likely to be offended.

What are the actions on Facebook that can irritate your friends?

In terms of the content of the comments or statuses, the study concluded that the following reasons were the most common for removing a friend from Facebook:

  • For habitually posting unimportant and unimportant things.
  • For writing very radical opinions on political or religious issues.
  • For making racist, sexist or unpleasant comments.
  • For constantly posting about your private life: what you are eating, how happy you are with your partner or what you are going to do at night.

Second phase of the study

How do we feel when someone deletes us?

Regarding the second phase of the study, i.e. the emotional reactions of individuals who are removed from Facebook, Sibona found a variety of emotions associated with this fact. The most common are the following:

  • I’m surprised
  • I don’t care
  • It’s funny
  • I feel sad

It should be noted that depending on the degree of friendship between the two actors (the one who eliminates and the one who is eliminated), the closer the friendship, the more sadness one feels for having been eliminated . Therefore, “being sad” can be used as a predictor of closeness in the relationship. Finally, the study also concluded that deleting someone from Facebook occurs more often among friends than among acquaintances.

You may be interested in: “Depersonalization and (in)communication in social networks”

Bibliographic references:

  • Sibona, C., (2014) Unfriending on Facebook: Context Collapse and Unfriending Behaviors. 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 1676-1685
  • Sibona, C., (2014) Facebook Fallout: The Emotional Response to Being Unfriended on Facebook. 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 1705-1714