Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

In your Face(book)!

Study finds users of social media feel as if their friends are gloating

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Facebook posts of your exotic vacations and popular status updates could be stressing out some of your friends, making them miserable and envious of your exciting life, a new German study shows.

The joint study conducted by researchers at Berlin's Humboldt University and Darmstadt's Technical University of 600 German Facebook users showed more than one-third reported feeling envious of their friends' posts about travel and leisure.

"This is a result of numerous vacation photos posted on Facebook, which are particularly popular among German users," said Dr. Thomas Widjaja of Darmstadt.

But the same can be said of any prolific user of the world's largest social network.

Photos are one of the most popular posts on Facebook. The network's mobile app offers filters so users can enhance their images.

Researchers said users who suffer the most painful experiences are those who do not engage with others on Facebook, but instead use the social network in a passive manner, reading friends' posts, checking news feeds, or browsing through pictures.

"Indeed, access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful 'friends' fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy," the study shows. "By and large, online social networks allow users unprecedented access to information on relevant others -- insights that would be much more difficult to obtain offline."

-- Orlando Sentinel

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 9, 2013 E2

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