How many “Facebook friends” do we really know?

When we talk about the dangers of not taking care of our privacy on the Internet, it is strange that we automatically think of sophisticated computer programs designed to extract important data from our ongoing interactions with the network: enter our telephone number. card in an online payment box, by filling out a registration form on a particular website, or even by searching for keywords on Google.

However, it is increasingly common that the information that data analysts and data miners work with is not lines that we typed in internet spaces that we believe to be private and protected, but what we do on social networks open to many people. In other words, what threatens our privacy is the actions we take on the internet to get information about ourselves from more people and, at the same time, to get information about others.

Facebook privacy

The clearest example of this voluntary lack of confidentiality that we could have before our eyes, in the number of people that we have added as friends on the most important social network: Facebook. It is increasingly common to have a large number of people together, even if our profile is not created to promote our products or services.

An interesting study

At this point, it is not necessary to ask and what percentage of these people is made up of friends, but simply how many of these people we have added to facebook we are able to recognize. The answer, according to research conducted by a number of scientists at California State University and Yale University, is that friends and acquaintances may not even add 75% of the people we’ve added to Facebook, at least with the. sample used (part of the US population).

In other words, the number of people we really know from our Facebook contact list could be just a proportion of 3 out of 4 people. The rest of the people? We have serious problems remembering your first or last name.

Do you recognize this person?

The research article, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, gives more clues as to how this study was approached.

To collect the data, the research team designed a computer program called What’s Her Face (book) in which each of the more than 4,000 participants who tested it had to enter their last name, first name or first name and the names of selected people. randomly from your Facebook contact list. The “tag” on the person to be identified contained only five photographs: the profile photo and four photos in which they appeared tagged.

If only one first or last name was entered, one of the letters could be missed so that the attempt could be considered correct, while if a name and at least one last name were entered, there was a margin of 3 letters of error left. . Participants were encouraged to identify as many people as possible within 90 seconds, the length of the game, and could play as many times as they wanted. The average number of games played by each person was 4 times.

The result? On average, participants could only identify 72.7% of their Facebook friends, Which was an average of 650. In other words, out of the average 650 people added to Facebook, participants could only say the names of 472 of them, not even 3 out of 4 people added to it. social network.

in detail

Beyond this result obtained on average, there are differences between the subgroups of individuals. Differences which, in any case, do not manage to cover the distance which goes from the average of 72.7% to 100% of success that one would theoretically expect if the Facebook friends of the participants were also friends in the real life.

For example, men have been shown to be better at identifying othersWhile women have also been found to be more adept at recognizing people of the same sex.

Additionally, in general, women performed better than men, hitting the name 74.4% of the time, while men had an average success rate of 71%.

On the other hand, as expected, people with fewer people on their contact list performed better: About 80% of correct answers contrasting with 64.7 calls among people with more people added

A slight advantage

Theoretically, the results obtained by people who had already played before should be better than those obtained by others who had the opportunity to have more time to identify people who were not recognized initially. Outraged, whenever a person does not identify themselves, the name of that Facebook contact appears on the screen, Which should give you a significant advantage to get a good score in the next round.

However, the people who played the most times only managed to improve on average only 2% of their score, an increase that seems ridiculous considering how many times it continues to fail even on the last attempt.

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