Does Facebook Make People More Honest?

While a lot of attention has been paid to instances of fraud, identity theft, and deliberate spreading of misinformation via social media, many users believe that social media actually makes people more honest by bringing greater transparency to relationships.

According to a survey of 2,000 British Facebook users by OnePoll, 36% reported telling fewer lies since they joined the site, and 53% said they think lies are easier to discover because of the personal information offered by Facebook. On that score, 51% said they are “extra careful” about what they post on Facebook and Twitter, and 34% said they hide their login info from partners, relatives, and friends for the specific purpose of concealing lies.

OnePoll uncovered other evidence of Facebook’s sweeping impact on social life. For example, 60% of respondents said they think Facebook has replaced photo albums as a place for storing memories, while the same proportion said they use social media instead of a diary, and 48% said they think social networks can help form new relationships. But there’s clearly ambivalence as well, as 52% of respondents said they wish they could go back to a time before Facebook (apparently simply quitting isn’t an option -- you need time travel).

While these survey results are interesting, it’s worth noting the questions and answers appear to focus on the “real life” social circles of respondents, in which acquaintances can compare social media content to other statements or behaviors to uncover deception. If you only know someone via social media, obviously it will be a lot harder to determine if what they’re saying about themselves is true (although you can look for inconsistencies in what they post on social media sites).

There’s also the possibility that someone who’s known only through social media will use it to disseminate flagrant lies because they’re a sociopath who doesn’t care about getting caught. True, they may be discovered fairly quickly, but they can still cause quite a bit of chaos before their deception is revealed.

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2 comments about "Does Facebook Make People More Honest?".
  1. Elle Morgan from Edmunds.com , November 26, 2012 at 5:49 p.m.
    I've had more than one male friend ask me to post on their Facebook wall a comment about all the fun we had or how I miss him, etc. to make their ex-girlfriends jealous. Interesting how much weight we, and society as a whole, put on our online reputation, whether honest or dishonest.
  2. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing , November 26, 2012 at 9:08 p.m.
    Most of my personal info on Facebook is fake including my name, location, work etc. But my friends and the Fan pages I like are mostly honest. Except when it comes to politics. I might Like the GOP page but that is only to trash their posts when they lie which is often.