Friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter…and the problems of leaving them

There is a long piece in the Guardian about the problems of unfriending or unfollowing people on Facebook and Twitter. Or removing the clutter as it is described here. It seems that these new types of social connections are creating new types of social difficulties. Maz Hardey at Durham has quite a bit of work on the new types of unwritten etiquette that emerge on social networking sites. Here is a link to her profile, which has links to her other pages.

The Guardian piece raises quite a few issues about the handling of these types of friendships and also makes an argument about how strong these connections are. It makes an argument against the idea that social networking increases isolation. At the same time some of the weaker ties that are created do seem to creating difficulties for some. It seems from the article that some part of the problems of unfriending are social – i.e. it is awkward and might upset people etc – but part of it is that the platform tries to encourage the user to keep their friends and followers. The alternative being to cut them out of some of the interactions.

Of course one alternative to the apparent stresses of social cluttering might be to leave Facebook or Twitter altogether. My colleague David Hill has written a really interesting piece called ‘Reflections on leaving Facebook‘.

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