Why Do People Unfriend Others On Facebook?

By Justin Lafferty 

Unfriending can be a delicate, dramatic task. There are a variety of reasons why people do it: Maybe someone is an oversharer, or an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, and you’d just feel better off disconnecting. Cambridge University recently published a study showing why people unfriend each other on Facebook.

The United Kingdom university studied more than 34,000 relationships on Facebook, examining why they dissolved. What did researchers find?

Upon analyzing 34,012 Facebook relationships,we found that, on average, a relationship is more likely to break if it is not embedded in the same social circle, if it is between two people whose ages differ, and if one of the two is neurotic or introvert. Interestingly, we also found that a relationship with a common female friend is more robust than that with a common male friend. These findings are in line with previous analyses of another popular social-networking platform, that of Twitter. All this goes to suggest that there is not much difference between offline and online worlds and, given this predictability, one could easily build tools for monitoring online relations.

Some more discoveries:

  • The more mutual friends two people have, the less likely they are to unfriend one another.
  • When two people don’t have a female friend in common, there are more broken relationships (54.5 percent) than persistent ones. For triads involving two women (one of which is the mutual friend), the unfriend rate drops down to 33.8 percent.
  • The lower the age difference between two individuals, the less likely their tie will break.

Readers: Have you unfriended someone on Facebook recently? Why?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.