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Women More Likely To Unfriend Than Men 135

Posted by timothy
from the culling-the-herd dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "AFP reports that a study by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project shows that women are more likely than men to delete friends from their online social networks like Facebook and tend to choose more restrictive privacy settings. Sixty-seven percent of women who maintain a social networking profile said they have deleted friends compared with 58 percent of men. The study also found that men are nearly twice as likely as women to have posted updates, comments, photos or videos that they later regret (PDF). 'Even as social media users become more active curators of their profile, a small group of what might be described as trigger-happy users say they post updates, comments, photos, or videos that they later regret sharing.'"
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Women More Likely To Unfriend Than Men

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  • by dugjohnson (920519) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @09:32AM (#39157767) Homepage
    "The study also found that men are nearly twice as likely as women to have posted updates, comments, photos or videos that they later regret " or "Men more impulsive than women" Hmmm. Big surprise there.
    • Also, 67 vs 58 percent doesn't strike me as a distinguishing difference (+- 2.4%) .

      There are some more interesting ones though:

      Women are significantly more likely than men -- by a 67 percent to 48 percent margin -- to set their profile to private, the study said.

      Forty-eight percent said they have some difficulty with privacy controls while 49 percent said they did not experience any difficulty.

      • by bagorange (1531625) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @09:46AM (#39157841)

        Does this reflect higher concern re stalking (in the spectrum from the dangerous, life ruining/threatening kind to I don't want an old boyfriend to know about me)?
        Seems likely to me.
        I bet those of us worried about privacy in a big brother, what-can-future-employers-find-out-about-me way are more male than female, since that's probably correlated with higher computer literacy.

      • by retroworks (652802) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @09:55AM (#39157883) Homepage Journal
        There's gotta be more. E.g., Do the women really have more trouble with privacy settings - or does Facebook assume so because women inquire about the settings, whereas men won't stop and ask for directions (also explaining why more men fail to change settings to private)?
      • by BobK65 (2541842)
        That 67 vs 58 unfriending figure should have been controlled according to the average number of friends for each of the sexes. I suspect they wouldn't be equal. Even as a separate category average friends for each of the sexes would be interesting to know. Meh. Maybe they just didn't want to deal with classifying transvestites.
        • That 67 vs 58 unfriending figure should have been controlled according to the average number of friends for each of the sexes. I suspect they wouldn't be equal. Even as a separate category average friends for each of the sexes would be interesting to know. Meh. Maybe they just didn't want to deal with classifying transvestites.

          I bet it's evened out by women being more likely to approve a friend they don't really want in the first place and then defriending them later.

    • I find it amusing that someone funded a survey when they could get much more accurate data from a couple lines of SQL. Assuming one of the social networking sites would provide the info, of course.

    • by Deep Esophagus (686515) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @12:29PM (#39158629)

      My own experience with Facebook friends isn't nearly so clear-cut. My friends fall into one of four categories: People I know from childhood (school), people I know from work, people I know from church (conservative, evangelical) and people I know from a dialup BBS network in the 80s. Of those four groups, only the BBS nerds are an even mix of men and women; in the other three groups women dominate (heh) by a vast majority.

      And unlike the survey results mentioned in TFS, my female friends tend to be the ones to chatter about personal issues -- daily photos of children and grandchildren doing cute things, updates about their mood or health, etc. The men write about political issues, cars and other "guy toys", restaurants they like, hunting... and some of them only visit Facebook once a month or less.

      So the real news here is... your mileage may vary?

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      no need for sexism. the argument could be made that women unfriend more often due to less control over emotional impulsivity. when women severe social ties, it's often a lot more dramatic than men.

  • Still holding out. (Score:4, Informative)

    by philip.paradis (2580427) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @09:40AM (#39157801)

    I still don't have a Facebook account, and am no worse the wear for it. I have noted that of my family and friends who do have accounts, the ones who typically talk about their Facebook activity the most are definitely the women, and a lot of that talk seems to swing between gossip and outright vicious assaults. I'll just stay out of that mess, thanks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Facebook is like most other technologies. You get out of it what you put into it.

      News at 11.
    • by shentino (1139071)

      Only reasons I have a facebook now:

      1) Tried it out before the privacy debacle hit the fan, then found myself held captive with Facebook flat out refusing to delete me even though I followed the 2 week removal procedure to the letter.

      2) Some of my friends have already been suckered in and Facebook has many communication facilities locked down to members only, so I dusted it off as the only way to stay in touch with them.

      • 1) Tried it out before the privacy debacle hit the fan, then found myself held captive with Facebook flat out refusing to delete me even though I followed the 2 week removal procedure to the letter.

        Sounds like a compelling reason to stay away from Facebook, to demand that your account be deleted, and to let the news media know about what they are doing.

        2) Some of my friends have already been suckered in and Facebook has many communication facilities locked down to members only, so I dusted it off as the only way to stay in touch with them.

        "I am not on Facebook"; if your friends refuse to talk to you because you do not use Facebook, then I would reevaluate your relationship with them. Why give in to Facebook's attempt to take control of the world's communication, especially when we have so many systems that are not controlled by any one party?

        • "I am not on Facebook"; if your friends refuse to talk to you because you do not use Facebook, then I would reevaluate your relationship with them. Why give in to Facebook's attempt to take control of the world's communication, especially when we have so many systems that are not controlled by any one party?

          Which communication modalities aren't under the control of a monopolist? Snail mail is dominated by the postal service. For the longest time, in the US, phone service was only available through AT&T, but today with wireless, you've got a whopping 4 choices. Internet access is also pretty much the same -- you're lucky if you have more than one ISP to choose from.

          However, I would argue that mail, phone service, etc. have little competition because of the high infrastructure cost for a new competitor.

          • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @11:50AM (#39158443)

            Which communication modalities aren't under the control of a monopolist?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email [wikipedia.org]
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet [wikipedia.org]
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRC [wikipedia.org]

            you're lucky if you have more than one ISP to choose from.

            Except that the Internet is not controlled by that one ISP, only your connection to it. No matter how you connect to Facebook, it is a communication system that is controlled entirely by one company. That is the difference here.

            Facebook is different in that the large interconnected user base is what creates the barrier to entry.

            No, the fact that Facebook has made no substantial effort at being interoperable with any other system is what creates a barrier to entry.

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              Email: 75% spam

              USENET: 99% spam and zero privacy unless you run your own server

              IRC: your non-geek friends have never heard of it.

              • Email: 75% spam

                Might I recommend using a spam filter? I only see one or two spam messages per month...

                USENET: 99% spam and zero privacy unless you run your own server

                I guess that it depends on which newsgroups you are reading; I rarely see spam in sci.crypt or the other groups I read. As for privacy, I have no clue what it is that you are referring to here -- are you concerned that other people are going to read your messages in a discussion system? That is like claiming that people are going to read the messages that you post in Facebook groups or other forums.

                IRC: your non-geek friends have never heard of it.

                1. So what?
                2. I know
                • by dgatwood (11270)

                  Might I recommend using a spam filter? I only see one or two spam messages per month...

                  And now you're back to something controlled in part by a fairly small number of companies that provide the blacklists.

                  As for privacy, I have no clue what it is that you are referring to here -- are you concerned that other people are going to read your messages in a discussion system? That is like claiming that people are going to read the messages that you post in Facebook groups or other forums.

                  My point was that Faceboo

                  • RBL subscriptions are entirely optional. Nothing, aside from taking the time to set it up, is stopping you from setting up your own mail server with SpamAssassin [apache.org] and/or various other filtering options controlled exclusively by you. Like anything, it's not perfect, but in my ten years of using it, it's proven to be immensely effective. With freedom comes responsibility and work.

                    I don't use Facebook at all, and I'm not about to start any time soon. Anything private gets sent via GPG/PGP encrypted mail. I've h

            • These are protocols, not services. They enable communication, but they don't provide it. Furthermore, nobody uses IRC or Usenet anymore, illustrating that popularity is the limiting factor. Email is a different story -- you can try to host your own mail server but it's a huge PITA to set up SPF records and whatnot to keep your outgoing mail from getting bounced. You're pretty much stuck with one of a handful of email providers.

              Except that the Internet is not controlled by that one ISP, only your connection to it. No matter how you connect to Facebook, it is a communication system that is controlled entirely by one company. That is the difference here.

              Does it matter? To you, the end user, the end result is the same. A service

              • These are protocols, not services

                Which is what communication systems are all about: protocol. Facebook is a protocol too, in some sense, but it is one that can only enable communication on the service run by Facebook the company. Compare this to the examples I gave, in which there are well defined rules for how different services can interoperate with each other and exchanges messages.

                Furthermore, nobody uses IRC or Usenet anymore

                These are claims that we should try to avoid making. There are quite a few IRC and Usenet users left; take a look at Freenode, EFNet, etc., and sci.c

              • nobody uses IRC or Usenet anymore

                I have dozens of friends and associates that I communicate with nearly exclusively on IRC. By nearly exclusively, I mean I might call them once every month or two, but I speak with them in IRC on a nearly daily basis. OFTC [oftc.net] operates a ton of servers, and other outfits like freenode [freenode.net]. Modern IRC is pretty feature rich; encryption, bouncers/relays, web-based clients, very rich native clients, and ANSI terminal clients (I use Irssi [irssi.org]) are all supported.

                Just using three degrees of separation from me, tens of thousa

                • Just using three degrees of separation from me, tens of thousands of people are using IRC at any given moment. Go further out in terms of separation and the number is much, much higher. Where did you get the idea that nobody uses IRC any more?

                  With some quick googling, IRC has reached a maximum of 500k simultaneous users, which is 0.5% of Facebook's 500 million. So, all else being equal, if I were looking to contact someone, the probability would be much, much higher that I find them on Facebook than IRC. In terms of population, we're talking about the difference between a medium sized city and something larger than both North America or Western Europe.

                  Email is a different story -- you can try to host your own mail server but it's a huge PITA to set up SPF records and whatnot to keep your outgoing mail from getting bounced.

                  How is one TXT or SPF record in DNS a huge PITA? It's incredibly simple. I host my own mail, along with mail for a bunch of other people and organizations. It's not that difficult, and my mail doesn't get bounced. My total involvement with my mail servers amounts to perhaps one hour per month, the total time taken to install security updates and make sure automated backups are running properly. If you don't want to invest this minimum of effort, that's fine, but please don't use the excuse that it's too difficult.

                  One hour per month ignores the time and effort it took to learn enough to be able to set up a

                  • My point was that the statement "nobody uses IRC" is provably false, and if you're using IRC you can always invite others to do the same. It's not difficult, and the primary point here is that nobody is forced to use things like Facebook. Yes, things like Facebook are vastly more common, but they are by no means the only options available. Using something purely because "everybody else already does" and then claiming that as a strong supporting reason for using it, as opposed to just showing some folks othe

                    • Using something purely because "everybody else already does" and then claiming that as a strong supporting reason for using it, as opposed to just showing some folks other options and maybe letting them decide if they want to give it a shot, strikes me as disingenuous.

                      Isn't this the one of the key premises of online social networking? Why join a social networking site if nobody else is using it? It's great if something else works for you, but berating others who make a different choice isn't going to solve anything.

                      Speaking of mail servers, of course there's a minimum time investment required to learn some basics first. The same applies to virtually anything we do in life, whether it's driving a car, learning to cook a steak, getting through high school, getting a college degree, tying your shoes, etc. With the amazing amount of step by step documentation available for virtually any kind of mail server config you want, that time investment is not substantial. To get a basic setup working does not require weeks worth of cramming. It requires maybe an evening or two of reading some docs and following simple instructions. If you don't want to do that, there are options like Zimbra [zimbra.com] that essentially boil down to "run this installer, log into the web interface, add whatever accounts you want, and you're done." Either way, it's pretty painless, thanks to the work of countless others who have taken the time to build nice things and write nice docs for them.

                      I'm still going to argue that a layman will have extreme difficulty in setting up and maintaining a mail server, even if he/she had several free weeks to do nothing else but figure it out. More power to you for running your own mail server, but if you hadn'

                    • More power to you for running your own mail server, but if you hadn't chosen a technical profession or hobby, I doubt you would even know where to start or that it was even possible. If you know what you're doing, it's always easy.

                      Sorry, that's just not true. I've seen several people who weren't IT professionals, had never seen a bash prompt before, and had nearly no starting knowledge get a VPS and get basic mail services up and running in less than a day. Guides like this [linode.com] help a lot with that sort of thing. Or you could just install Zimbra.

                      My telling you it's possible fixes the "not knowing it's possible" part, and now you can tell other people it's possible.

  • Really? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by g0bshiTe (596213)

    AFP reports that a study by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project

    AFP (Americas Funniest People) and the Pew Pew Research Center. Is this a windup?

  • Discretion!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teknx (2547472)
    What ever happened to discretion? People are so quick to post every thought, feeling, and complaint for the world to see. But then also complain about privacy. No one is forcing you to post about what you ate for breakfast and take a picture of it. The trend seems to point to things only getting worse in the future as more companies focus on you being the product and selling your information and habits to 3rd parties. I remember hearing someone say that if the services are free, YOU are the product.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:04AM (#39157917)

    Women are more likely to friend people they'll end up unfriending later.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      How many daughters have unfriended their own mother after an argument? I know a few.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Water is wet.

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:05AM (#39157923) Homepage Journal

    If you're going to say something say it without caring who hears it or don't say anything at all.

    The above described phenomenon is akin to how women and girls whisper in each others ears, filters are like whispering. The unfriending I see as akin to what I watched a group of girls do in high school. There was about a dozen of them but only 11 could be friends at a time, there was always one girl kicked out of the circle, when she came back they chose another one to be mad at and kicked her out of the circle.

    My guess is the regret men have is regret over how a woman reacted to the picture or other content.

  • by Just Brew It! (636086) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:22AM (#39158015)

    ...women are more selective than men regarding who to include in their social circle. I could've predicted this from real-world interactions. Women tend to form close-knit cliques. Men will hang with anyone who will get shitfaced drunk with them and commiserate about their problems with women, work, money, etc.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday February 25, 2012 @11:21AM (#39158297) Homepage Journal

      Or women are less selective, and they add people without thinking about it, and then remove them later when it proves to be a bad idea. You can't tell which it is from the summary, anyway :p

      • Actually, I was thinking it's a variant of this; perhaps women are less confrontational, and would prefer to accept you as a friend (because let's be honest, you know they're checking Facebook regularly), and then quietly delete you a month later, with the assumption that you likely won't notice, and almost certainly won't notice any time soon. At that point, you're more likely to chalk it up to a general culling of friends, which many people do periodically, rather than an "I don't like you".

  • by qualityassurancedept (2469696) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:23AM (#39158019) Journal
    Female's all over the animal kingdom use social exclusion instead of violence in order to punish other females. Exclusion is the primary competitive strategy for all sorts of female animals. Look it up on Wikipedia. Or google it. Its a widely known fact among researchers in the social science. That's how teenage girls bully each other.
    • Female's all over the animal kingdom use social exclusion instead of violence in order to punish other females

      Really?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budgerigar#Breeding_problems [wikipedia.org]

    • I'm curious about your thought process while writing this. Why would you add an apostrophe in "female's" but in "animals" or "girls"? And not in the send usage of "females". If you're going to abuse apostrophes, why not go whole hog?
    • by solferino (100959)

      Social exclusion is usually used to describe social disadvantage and is a broad term.

      The better term to use if you're interested in researching this is Relational aggression [wikipedia.org]

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @11:09AM (#39158247)
    Women will unfriend someone for wearing the wrong shoes with a skirt, I think men have known this for years.
  • What about divorce?
    Sources say [divorce-la...source.com] that women are initiating divorce in 66% [yahoo.com] of cases.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Oh, and by the way, my conclusion out of all of this is similar to the age old belief, that women come into relationships hoping to change the partner more often (and I believe men come into relationship hoping that the women don't change over time), and both get screwed.

      • You know the old joke about the definition of a bachelor: A insensitive clod who has deprived some poor woman of a divorce.

        Its actually not that funny. There are some women* (and not a small minority) who seek drama and conflict. Why do you think the plots of daytime soap operas are so bizarre? Well adjusted people stay the hell away from such emotional wreckage. Particularly on a regular basis (something you can experience with the occasional movie but not an ongoing story line). And they tend to seek out

        • *OK, some guys too. But if I say 'drama' and 'male', what stereotype comes to mind?

          Well, 'drama' has a strong connotation, but if you replace it with 'conflict', I think of drunken assholes beating up their wifes (and sometimes kids). Where I live, a couple dozen women are killed every year due to domestic violence.

          Compared to that, "emotional wreckage" seems somewhat less important.

          • by PPH (736903)

            Completely different. Drama queens seem to like being victims. Its possible that such women might seek out the drunken asshole (consciously or otherwise) for a boyfriend or husband.

            The male stereotype drama queen I was referring to has nothing to do with women .... if you know what I mean. ;-)

  • by koan (80826)

    Through out the ages "Women more likely to with hold sex" another duh moment in science.

    • We haven't evolved that far beyond our cousins. Primate behavior has plenty of insight into humans. People just don't like to hear that they are not thinking and act thoughtlessly as much as they do; after all, they've spent a lifetime rationalizing thoughtless irrational behaviors. It comes as no surprise to me that religious types have a harder time dealing with this whole area (from evolution to the nature of irrational behavior, it all involves a similar fiction writing process for explaining reality

      • by koan (80826)

        I agree I argue this point constantly, people in marketing get it why don't everyday people grasp it?

        Rare is the human the rises above his/her animals drives.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @01:09PM (#39158959) Journal

    > When it comes to privacy, 58 percent of social network users set their profile to private so that only friends can see it.

    This should be 100%. I suspect the other 42% don't know how or don't understand the ramifications. (Mild hyperbole, but you know what I mean.)

    I understand there's problems with Facebook privacy but if you're going to play at all, you have a responsibility to protect yourself. Just my opinion.

    It's also important not to poke "accept" for every friend request you get, without first doing due diligence. If you have one friend in common, that may only mean that your friend may have been stupid enough to click "accept" to a potential social engineer without checking.

    I photograph events and travel, and those albums are open. The rest is closed off. Not because I'm "hiding anything", (this is *facebook*) but because there are things I'd tell my friends that I wouldn't tell the general public. I review my privacy settings periodically. I don't do optional Facebook applications, ever. I don't do Facebook games, ever. I don't repost Facebook "forwards", and I will block someone if that's all they're doing. I have lively discussions (in our own words, not cutting and pasting someone else's) with a circle of friends, we share ideas and have some heated arguments, and that's a good thing -- in my opinion, it's the "social" in social networking. The rest is the electronic equivalent of stuffing an envelope with magazine clippings.

    I believe that women are more likely to unfriend, but I wonder what the statistic is for blocking. I have less than 200 friends, small by Facebook standards, although I've met most of them and about 25% of them would help me move (and 2 or 3 would help me move a body -- although they'd want to know who's first) and of those I've never unfriended someone no matter how obnoxious. I *have* blocked them from my news stream because they're irritating, natter on too much about nothing (a characteristic of Facebook it seems) or repeatedly try to bait the community out of some desire for attention. These "junk" postings get in the way of the people on my friends list whom I *want* to read.

    It doesn't seem right to unfriend. It seems snarky -- a personal insult. Blocking them from my news stream is more like, I haven't taken you out of my address book, but I probably won't be calling you. It would have been interesting to find out if this is a male vs female characteristic. Something like: Given it's time to end the relationship with another person, women are more likely to break up publicly, whereas men are more likely to simply ignore.

    I've noticed repeatedly that a personal friend or acquaintance will jump on, friend everyone in sight, load up a bunch of applications, play a bunch of games, and then suddenly disappear. I've asked some of them later about that, and some have said it takes too much time (I can see that) and others have said they lost interest (reasonable also) but many have said that they became alarmed at the lack of privacy. It's almost like there was an event that shook them up and they dropped out. Social networks are hot right now -- generally accepted -- but I wonder what people's perceptions will be in ten years time.

    Social networks are like any tool -- you can use it to get work done, or you can use it to poke your eye out. If you're not willing to learn the tool, you shouldn't be surprised at the consequences. There is no "walled garden" social network as far as I know. It's like the rest of the internet -- raw, fertile, potentially dangerous. The knife is sharp; it's important to point it in the right direction. But sometimes a spork just won't do.

    • This should be 100%. I suspect the other 42% don't know how or don't understand the ramifications. (Mild hyperbole, but you know what I mean.)

      I couldn't disagree more. It should be closer to 0%, because otherwise you're working under the assumptions that 1) Facebook will always correctly honor its permissions and 2) you have them configured correctly. My Facebook data is world-readable and that's a reminder to never post anything that I wouldn't want my mom, boss, or loan officer to see.

      Suppose Facebook has yet another bug where other users can work around your privacy settings. Hey, there's roc97007 making a bong out of a potato in his friend-on

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        I think you're saying that one strategy for social networks is to always assume that everything you ever say or do or upload online will be accessible by the press, law enforcement, your boss, worst enemies, friends, and loved ones. It's arguably a good strategy if a little confining.

        I would like to say that even though I keep things locked down (except for stuff like photo albums that I deliberately choose to share with the world), I certainly don't depend on Facebook security to hide illegal or unsavory

        • OK, those are good points that I can agree with. I guess I was reacting to the position I've heard all too often (which you admittedly weren't advancing) that the privacy controls are the start and end of protecting your information. That always horrifies me.

  • Groucho (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wildplasser (1031246) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @02:38PM (#39159493)
    I don't want to be friends with people who have people like me as friends.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Saturday February 25, 2012 @03:28PM (#39159737) Journal

    Look at any social group of young teenage girls today. They're the most vile, wretched, undisciplined, emotionally hostile human beings that walk the face of the Earth today. They think nothing of torturing their peers emotionally to the point of suicide.

    Women want their enemies to suffer socially and emotionally.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... teenage girls ...

      and the entirety of western civilisation is at their behest and control. Everything we do is to placate and please them. They have ultimate power but no clue what to do with it.

      This is why eastern cultures find western ones so abhorrent. We are without control, worshiping the teenage female form and sacrificing everything in our future for it. I'll have no part of it. It is too late though, we are past the point of no return, this has already effectively destroyed western civilisation.

  • Thank you, Slashdot, for giving me one more way in which I'm more like a woman than I am like a man. :(

  • Once they figure out what a huge information suck, privacy and security breach, and vector for being a tool for undeserving corporations to use and exploit ?

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