Awkward Facebook posts may cause anguish

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Participants were asked to describe a recent uncomfortable Facebook experience and rate the severity of the threat on a scale of one to five. Reuters Participants were asked to describe a recent uncomfortable Facebook experience and rate the severity of the threat on a scale of one to five. Reuters
SummaryResearchers recruited Facebook users through university websites and Craigslist.

Awkward Facebook posts can not only cause embarrassment, but also make some people suffer anguish and anxiety for a long time, a new study has found.

Such Facebook faux pas are common, but depending on who you are and to whom you allow access to your Facebook page, such embarrassments can cause greater anguish, according to a researchers from the Northwestern University.

Researchers recruited Facebook users through university websites and Craigslist. Only 15 of the 165 people surveyed had not experienced some kind of face threat in the past six months.

Participants were asked to describe a recent uncomfortable Facebook experience and rate the severity of the threat on a scale of one to five.

Information about their personality type, Internet and Facebook skills, size and diversity of their Facebook network was also collected and assessed.

"Almost every participant in the study could describe something that happened on Facebook in the past six months that was embarrassing or made them feel awkward or uncomfortable," said Jeremy Birnholtz, one of the authors of the paper.

"We were interested in the strength of the emotional response to this type of encounter," said Birnholtz.

People most concerned about social appropriateness (high self monitors) and those with a diverse network of friends on Facebook - are more likely to strongly experience a "face threat," the study found.

Whereas people who felt they had a high level of Facebook skills reported experiencing these kinds of threats less severely, researchers said.

"Perhaps people with more Facebook experience, who know how to control settings, delete pictures and comments and untag, think they knew how to deal with these encounters or at least try to deal with them," Birnholtz said.

Interestingly, people with a high level of general Internet skills - who may understand the importance of on-line reputations - also reported more severe reactions to face threats, Birnholtz noted.

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