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January 25, 2010

Facebook friends aren’t real shocker

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by Darren Allan

An Oxford university researcher has come forward saying that the amount of friends we might have on social networking sites isn’t reflective of real friendships.

Professor of evolutionary anthropology Robin Dunbar says that having thousands of friends on Facebook is meaningless, as they can’t possibly all be true friends you really know and interact with.

He’s put a number of 150 on the maximum possible amount of mates a human can actually interact with properly. The brain can’t really handle any more than that (well, there aren’t enough minutes in the day, either).

Dunbar arrived at this number through studies of various social groups from ancient times onwards, although he recently applied his expertise to social networking sites.

The results confirmed that compared to people who had a relatively small group of friends, those with a network of thousands of buddies had much the same level of online traffic.

In other words, as Dunbar told the Sunday Times: “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world.”

So, there you have it. People with 1,500 Facebook friends haven’t got 1,500 real pals, they just want to look popular. Who’d have thought it, eh?

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