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It's impossible to have more than 150 friends, so your Facebook friends list is basically a lie

by in tech
(Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A new study has reaffirmed that it's near-impossible to have more than 150 friends.

The research, published in the journal Social Networks, used data from 130,338 active Facebook profiles, finding that users will have a social structure for interactions - several layers constituting different levels of friendship.

These layers consist of around five, 15, 50 and 150 different friends respectively, based on the amount of contact between friends.

This structure was found in datasets from Twitter and Facebook, and matched, with variation, layered structures that have been found in offline social relationships.

Facebook friend networks were best described by a four-layer structure, whereas Twitter was best described by a five-layer structure.

Twitter users were unique in usually having a few contacts they message with far greater regularity than anyone else.

For the Twitter dataset, the three online datasets also identify an entirely new layer that was not visible from face-to-face communication data. This is an innermost layer at ∼1.5 individuals, scaling perfectly with the layers outside it. The layer is visible in all the datasets.

It is clear that this innermost layer has special relevance to egos since they contact these individuals at very high frequencies (on average at least once every five days in Facebook and every other day in Twitter).

In very few instances did anyone communicate with any regularity, with more than 100 people, reaffirming that the upper limit for contact with friends was around the 150 mark.

It is worth noting that, for the majority of ego networks, the size is lower than 100. This means that even though people can potentially add up to 5000 friends in Facebook, they communicate only with a small subset of them.





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