Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Facebook: A Profile of its ’Friends’

By Sara Kehaulani Goo

For years, the Pew Internet & American Life Project has been polling people who use social media, asking how they use it and what they get out of it. The results paint an interesting picture of what kind of people use sites such as Facebook, who they are connected to and how they manage their privacy.

As Facebook prepares for its IPO, we’ve curated a picture of Facebook ‘friends,’ with some data points, charts and salient facts.



Our surveys have found these behaviors among Facebook users: 

• On average, users make 7 new Facebook friends per month; they initiate 3 requests and accept 4.
• Women average 21 updates to their Facebook status per month while men average 6.
• In a month, about half of our sample made a comment on a friend’s content, and about half received a comment.
• Fewer than 5% of users hid content from another user on their Facebook feed.




Facebook, on an Average Day:

  • 15% of Facebook users update their own status. 
  • 22% comment on another’s post or status. 
  • 20% comment on another user’s photos. 
  • 26% “Like” another user’s content. 
  • 10% send another user a private message.




Characteristics of Facebook Users

Facebook users are more trusting than others. A Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day is 43% more likely than other internet users and more than three times as likely as non-internet users to feel that most people can be trusted.
Facebook users have more close relationships. Someone who uses Facebook several times per day averages 9% more close, core ties in their overall social network compared with other internet users.
Facebook users are much more politically engaged. Compared with other internet users, and users of other social networking platforms, a Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day is an additional two and half times more likely to attend a political rally or meeting, 57% more likely to persuade someone on their vote, and43% more likely to have said they would vote.
Facebook users get more social support. A Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day receives more emotional support and companionship offline (such as having someone help you when you are sick in bed.)



Facebook, Social Networking and Privacy

Social networking users, including Facebook users, are becoming more active about pruning and managing their accounts. Women and younger users tend to unfriend more than others.



Of people who use social networking sites, 63% have deleted people from their “friends” lists, up from 56% in 2009; 44% have deleted comments made by others on their profile; and 37% have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them.

A majority of social network site users – 58% – restrict access to their profiles
and women are significantly more likely to choose private settings.


Facebook Users Receive More Than They Give

Most Facebook users receive more from their Facebook friends than they give, according to a study that for the first time combines server logs of Facebook activity with survey data to explore the structure of Facebook friendship networks and measures of social well-being.

Over a one-month period:
• 40% of Facebook users in our sample made a friend request, 63% received at least one request
• Users in our sample pressed the like button next to friends’ content an average of 14 times, but had their content “liked” an average of 20 times
• Users sent 9 personal messages, but received 12
• 12% of users tagged a friend in a photo, but 35% were themselves tagged in a photo


Read more from Pew Research Center:

Why Facebook Users Receive More Than They Give (Feb. 2012)

Social Networking Sites and Our Lives (June 2011)

Privacy Management on Social Media Sites (Feb. 2012)

Pew Internet: Social media (March 2012)

The Social Impact of Technology

Note: The figures highlighted above about the average number of Facebook friends, the percent of friends on Facebook from high school, the percentage of Facebook friend requests accepted and the two-degrees of separation are based on responses received from Pew Internet & American Life Project‘s survey. The average number of Facebook friends is 229 according to respondents of our survey; However, in other reports we have cited an average 245 friends based on subset of those respondents who provided us with more detailed information.


Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Fresh data delivery Saturday mornings

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for The Briefing

Weekly updates on the world of news & information