While Microsoft Word seems not to recognize it as a word, unfriending is an increasingly common phenomenon according to new figures from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which show a significant increase in unfriending and similar activities (deleting comments and removing tags from photos) over the last couple years.
Pew’s latest data, based on a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011, using a sample of 2,277 U.S. adults, found that 63% of social network users have deleted people from their “friends” lists, compared to 56% in 2009. Meanwhile 44% have deleted comments left on their profile by other people, compared to 36% in 2009, and 37% have removed their names from photos that had been tagged to identify them, up from 30% in 2009.
Women are more likely to have deleted someone from their friends list, at 67%, compared to 58% of men. The same percentage of women say they use the highest security settings for their social network profiles, compared to just 48% of men. 23% of men and 16% of women say they have restricted their privacy settings so friends of friends can see their profiles, while 26% of men and 14% of women say their profiles are visible to the public.
There’s good reason to be security conscious, beginning with our own tendency to do stupid things online: 11% of respondents in the latest Pew survey said they have posted content they later regretted. Perhaps unsurprisingly, men are considerably more likely to regret posting something online, at 15%, compared to just 8% for women. Way to use your commonsense, ladies! And for the gentlemen, some helpful tips: if it involves nudity, swear words, epithets, illegal drugs or beer bongs, you probably shouldn’t post it online.