Why We Don't Delete Annoying Facebook Friends

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Facebook has won a legal fight in China over copyright of the two-word term “face book.” Flickr/ CC

If your Facebook feed is filled with posts from annoying contacts then fear not, there's a scientific reason for it.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University asked 52 Facebook users to rate 100 randomly sampled friends on the network in terms of their closeness and their online disagreement frequency.

"People are spending more and more time online making them more vulnerable to potentially damaging social tension and disagreements," said Sarah Buglass, lead author of the study.

"Our study explored the characteristics of people who might be more likely to cause this sort of trouble in an online social network."

The analysis showed that contacts deemed as troublemakers tended to be socially popular online, although interactions with the participants were very limited.

Buglass and her team concluded that these findings implied Facebook users were keeping an eye on provocative friends in a bid to avoid confrontation themselves.

The study found that Facebook users worried about the social repercussions of unfriending someone on the online network. By disconnecting someone on Facebook, it risks causing offline tension with friends, family members or colleagues.

"Facebook users appear to be harboring known online troublemakers on their Facebook networks," Buglass said. "While some were not averse to reporting the online indiscretions of others to the service provider, many more choose to merely ignore them.

"It appears that they don't want to communicate with the troublemakers online for risk of damaging their own reputation, but at the same time they don't appear to want to unfriend them either."