Uncomfortable Facebook posts may cause long-term distress

Facebook may keep you well connected with your friends and loved ones. Although social bonding bestows positivity in character, awkward comments can lead to embarrassment, according to a new study.

While for some the anguish and embarrassment is short-lived, for others the anxiety lasts for a lifetime, researchers say.

According to the findings of the new study, awkward Facebook comments can cause great anguish that can last for a long time.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers from the Northwestern University enrolled 165 Facebook users using university websites and Craigslist.

Participants were asked if they had experienced any kind of threat or embarrassing comment in the last six months. They were required to rate their uncomfortable Facebook experience on a scale of one to five, with five being the most severe and uncomfortable.

Details of their personality traits, Internet and Facebook skillfulness, size and diversity of their Facebook network were also culled.

Researchers found that 85 percent of the people surveyed had experienced some kind of Facebook discomfort.

“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,” study’s co-author, Jeremy Birnholtz, said.

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

Participants who were most concerned about social aptness and those with the most diverse ‘friends’ network were the most likely to face uncomfortable Facebook comments, researchers highlighted.

Interestingly, participants who reportedly had high level of Facebook skills and knowledge like controlling settings, deleting pictures and comments and un-tag, experienced these threats less severely, researchers said.

But subjects with high level of general Internet skills took such comments more severely, Birnholtz highlighted.

As these people are more likely to understand the importance of online reputations, they experience ‘face threats’ more severely, Birnholtz noted.

Facebook faux-pas can have long term effects on ones behavior, Birnholtz concluded. “People should think twice about a friend’s Facebook audience before commenting on their content or posting to their page.” The tem also advised that “Facebook could offer more pop-ups and nudges to help people think twice before posting a possible ‘threat’ to a friend’s page.”

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