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Unfriending people on Facebook hurts their feelings

Unfriend someone on Facebook whose posts you find annoying? A new study finds that person may avoid you, forever. Christopher Sibona, a computer science doctoral student at the University of Colorado, says while a lot of people use social networks as a source of entertainment, your Facebook actions can have real world consequences

sex and relationships Updated: Feb 06, 2013 16:41 IST

Unfriend someone on Facebook whose posts you find annoying? A new study finds that that person may avoid you, forever.

Study author Christopher Sibona, a computer science doctoral student at the University of Colorado in Denver, says that while a lot of people use social networks as a source of entertainment, your Facebook actions can have real world consequences.

He found that 40 percent of people surveyed said they would steer clear of anyone in real life who had unfriended them on Facebook. Another 10 percent were unsure. Women said they would avoid contact more than men.

The study, published this month by the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, was based on 582 survey responses gathered via Twitter.

Sibona outlines the top four reasons people are unfriended on Facebook:
1. Frequent, unimportant posts
2. Polarizing posts usually about politics or religion
3. Inappropriate posts involving sexist, racist remarks
4. Being boring: drab posts about kids, food, etc.

However, being unfriended can trigger feelings of ostracism, which can have important psychological consequences for those to whom it occurs. Yet, science does support unfriending a recent ex from your social media circuit: a study finds that cyberstalking exes on Facebook delays your post-breakup recovery and personal growth.

The solution: cut ties and click Unfriend. That study was published last September in the journal Cyberspychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.