People over-share on social media

5 February 2014
WASHINGTON: Four times as many people daily 'like' content posted by friends on Facebook as update their own status, according to new research which also indicates that many users dislike it when people share too much information about themselves.

Pew Research carried out telephone surveys with 1,801 adult Facebook users across the US and found that 10% changed or updated their status on a daily basis, sometimes more than once. But 44% said they clicked the like button next to friends' status, photos, link or other posts every day, while 31% commented on other people's photos.

This suggested, observed the Wall Street Journal, that "a significant portion of Facebook is a one-way conversation buoyed by internet voyeurs who relish the ability to document their lives with their friends or with the public".

More than half of Facebook users never updated their status (25%) or did so at roughly monthly intervals (27%). A further 16% changed their status "every few weeks", while 15% were doing this one or two days a week and 6% between three and five days a week.

The main reasons users liked Facebook was being able to see photos and videos posted by friends (47%), being able to share something with many people at the same time (46%), receiving updates and comments from people in one's network (39%) and being entertained by the funny things that people shared or posted (39%).

At the same time, however, 61% of respondents disliked people sharing too much information about themselves, while 58% objected to people posting things about them or pictures of them without permission.

Other things users disliked included people seeing posts or comments that they hadn't meant them to (43%), feeling pressured to share too much personal information (39%), pressure to comment on friends' content (27%) and pressure to post popular material to get "likes" and comments (25%).

Separately, a survey by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and research firm Bovitz found that around one third of all Facebook users will use the service less within five years.

Jeffrey Cole, Center director, said Facebook would become "the phone directory for the planet" where young users communicated with family and searched for people before moving that relationship to a smaller online community such as a microblog.

And Greg Bovitz, of the eponymous research firm, described Facebook as "an online watering hole" where people would co-ordinate communications and stay in touch, create events and build a comprehensive online presence in a way that microblogs currently could not.

Data sourced from Pew Research, PR Newswire, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff
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