Facebook Users Most Often Unfriend People They Knew From High School

And how does that make the victim of the unfriending feel? Surprised, usually

Photo: Jonathan Nicholson/Demotix/Corbis

Ever get annoyed by the seemingly endless Facebook baby shots, photos of food and mind-numbing updates by high school classmates you barely even knew when you lived in the same place? Take solace in knowing that you are not alone. According to research recently presented at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences and based on a survey of more than 1,000 people, Facebook users most often unfriend people they knew from high school. 

According to the University of Colorado Denver researchers, people were most often pushed to the unfriending extreme when they saw someone post strong religious or political comments they did not agree with. The second most common reason, they said, was "frequent, uninteresting posts."

In addition to high school acquaintances, friends-of-friends and work friends are also at high risk for unfriending. In the latter case, things that happened in person, in the work place (presumably, bad things) tended to kick off the unfriending rather than any annoying posts or political agendas. 

So how do all of these poor unfriended Facebook connections feel upon learning that they have lost their digital tie to you? Surprised, mostly, according to most victims. Others reported feeling amused, bothered or sad. Hurt feelings—not surprisingly—resulted if the unfriending was dished out by a close or long-term friend rather than a mere acquaintance, the researchers found. But on the other hand, even a unfriend from a distant acquaintance can be emotionally difficult. "If you have a lot of friends on Facebook, the cost of maintaining those friendships is pretty low,” lead researcher Christopher Sibona said in a statement. “So if you make a conscious effort to push a button to get rid of someone, that can hurt.”  

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