More Facebook users “defriend”

Confucius said silence is a true friend who never betrays. It appears Facebook users are taking that adage to heart.

Nearly two-thirds of Facebook profile owners have deleted a friend at some point in the past year, up from 56 percent in 2009. In fact, a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that social network users are culling their “friends” like never before.

“There are several reasons you might delete an online friend — perhaps you became friends on Facebook only to discover later that they consistently post inane updates, or maybe there’s been a falling out of some kind in the real world that has changed the relationship,” writes Matt Brownell for The Street. “But beyond the actual personal relationship, the survey results indicate that privacy and reputation management may be the main issue at stake.”

Brownell notes that users are more often deleting comments and untagging photos of themselves on social networks, a strong indication that users are more serious about managing their online presence. Nearly 60 percent of Facebook users restrict their profiles to their network friends. As a user and casual observer of social media, it astonishes me what some people post on their profiles, particularly when business colleagues and even bosses are among their followers.

Others are taking the proverbial bull by the horns by more deliberately managing their online presence. That trend has undoubtedly been enhanced by Facebook’s much simpler privacy settings, rolled out last summer. That development came after Facebook faced federal regulatory scrutiny over the way it handled user information. The new system, which came in large part due to increasing federal regulatory scrutiny over the way Facebook handled user information, appears to be a step in the right direction for users. Still, there’s no doubt that the company will strive to monetize user data as it preps its imminent IPO.

In the meantime, if you’ve been defriended, maybe it’s best not to take it personally. It’s just good reputation management.

Lee Simmons

Lee Simmons is a business writer in Austin. He covers the technology and media industries for Hoover's and offers random musings on the state of entertainment (among other pressing issues) for Bizmology. Follow him at Twitter.

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