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Study finds your Facebook friends are not your “real friends”

How many friends do you have on your Facebook account? 50? 100? 200? 500? Are they really your friends to begin with?

Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, made a research about how Facebook friendship correlates with real-life friendship. The result may surprise you.

According to his study, most of Facebook friends and Twitter followers are basically not your “real friends.” Of the 150 Facebook friends an average user has, Dunbar found out that only 15 could be counted as actual friends and only four as close friends.

“There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome. In practical terms, it may reflect the fact that real (as opposed to casual) relationships require at least occasional face-to-face interaction to maintain them.” said Dunbar.

Instead of using social media to increase people’s social circles, Dunbar suggests Facebook and other social media may function to maintain the quality of friendship one has.

“The fact that people do not seem to use social media to increase the size of their social circles suggests that social media may function mainly to prevent friendships decaying over time in the absence of opportunities for face-to-face contact.” Dunbar said.