Can We Trust Social Networks?

Using social networks releases feelings of love, but research has shown that individuals may be less trusting of others on these sites.

Sounds silly, right? (The Dude is confused, too)

But can we trust social networks and the updates we see published to them?

The Role of Trust

Although social networking is widely attributed to activities in the digital sphere, “it has a much wider meaning that includes – believe it or not – that very outdated form of relating to others, using physical or real, as opposed to virtual or electronic, contact”, according to Psychology Today.

Regardless of where the contact occurs, your comfortability rests in the trust you have in those you come in contact with. As an attitude that can change over time, trust is the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something” (Thanks, Google!).

Social networkers aren’t all trusting of others on these various sites. In the study Social Networking Sites and Our Lives (Hampton, Goulet, Rainie, Purcell. 2011), 54% of those surveyed who were internet users said that most people cannot be trusted. We’ll skim the surface of another study that examined this further.

Putting Up Emotional Walls

In 2013, George Nitzburg and Barry Farber of Columbia University investigated the role of attachment in influencing emerging adults’ perceptions and feelings about and their disclosures on social networking sites in their study, Putting Up Emotional (Facebook) Walls?.

They found that “Facebook can exacerbate the insecure attachment patterns”. If you aren’t completely comfortable with sharing information in a public setting, social networking has the ability to amplify that lack of trust, that lack of comfortability. Nitzburg and Farber declare that social networks present the “opportunity [for people] to hold their personal relationships at a psychological arm’s length” when connecting through digital avenues.

Say “Bye” To Those You Don’t Trust

Trust is often times built on incomplete or imperfect knowledge, but the abundance of detailed information (perhaps TMI) about a person’s personal background, favorite vacation spots, movie tastes, and whereabouts that exists on social networking sites makes it “improbable that Facebook users will maintain in their personal list of friends people who they really distrust”, according to the University of Texas study Is There Social Capital in a Social Network Site?

Do You Trust Social Networks?

When interacting with others online, what level of trust do you have in them? Is the relationship genuine?

Are those who are distrusting of others online misguided in their belief?

Let us know in the comments below or by leaving a voice message using the SpeakPipe widget to the right!

About Carson Reider

Carson Reider is a research and content contributor for NR Media Group and a graduate assistant at the Center for Sports Administration at Ohio University. He is currently pursuing an MBA/MSA and also writes for the Ohio University Sports Administration website and

  • David Lio

    I think people should be careful but not paranoid- the idea is to choose websites you can trust.. I use (and there are some other local social networks), I have my name, picture, interests and address there, and this info I share with others allow me to be connected to my neighbors and to find out about events and things going on nearby..

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