Facebook is great for the fact that you can precisely plan exactly what you want to say. Unlike real life, which is all haphazard and spontaneous. You can take your time on Facebook, write and re-write every status, timeline post, or photo comment as many times as you like. "Self-Censorship" is great for making sure you get to say exactly what you want, but how much does Facebook learn about you from your constant edits?
A scientific study by Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, has delved into exactly why people self-censor on Facebook, how often, and which types of people do it more often. Scarier still, the study shows just how easy it is to track this data, bringing up the question: does Facebook keep track of all this info?
Before we get all Big Brother-y, here are the top reasons why you doubt your words on Facebook:
Because You Don't Know Your Audience
Posting a status update for everyone to see is apparently more stressful than writing on a friend's timeline or in a group. More self-censorship was seen in posts where the Facebooker's thoughts could be seen by a large, undefined, and vague audience. Probably a good thing. I don't even want to think about the amount of statuses people think people want to see, then delete their "omg Muffy is the cutest cat in the WORLD" status after a few seconds of consideration.
Because Photos Are Forever
Comments on photos are more self-censored than any other kind, which makes a good deal of sense. Unlike statuses or posts, photos don't get flooded down to the bottom of someones timeline, they stay in that conveniently located 'photos' section right at the top of someone's profile. Your douchey comment of "we look so hot right now" on your friend's pic taken last weekend at Korova is just a few clicks away for anyone to see, with no one aware you were being sarcastic. In the end, you look like a vain idiot, so its probably best to self-censor you photo comments.
Because Dudes Are Wimpier Than Girls
Sorry guys, looks like we're more self conscious than our gal pals. Males were reported to self-censor 26% more than females, with that number going even higher if a guy has more male friends. Looks like us bros aren't quite as macho as we seem, and we care a lot more than we let on, especially when it comes to the opinions of other guys. Its all about 'dat rep.
Because You're Old
The older you are, the more you censor your posts. Not quite true when it comes to comments, but the higher your age the more likely you were to take a while to think about what you wanted to say on Facebook. Maybe the younglings are just way too hyperactive, or maybe with age comes the wisdom of waiting. Personally, I think its just because the older you get, the more boring your life becomes, then when you're writing a status about your 60 hour work week you take a second, realize how NO ONE cares, and delete. Trust, it's best you did.
Because Your Friends All Think The Same Way
If you have a large amount of friends, all with the same political views and similiar friends, you're more likely to go back and change your post a few times. The more diverse in POVs and the less censorship. Makes sense. Make a post that pisses off one person in your tight network, chances are your gonna get a lot more hate. Try to bash Miley Cyrus when all of your friends like her page, and you'll think twice before you start a flame war. Even worse if you're getting political with it.
The Scary Part
One thing this study brings up is the fact that its really easy to track even what you don't write on Facebook. Given Facebook's date use policy, it looks like the social media giant could use your deleted posts, comments, and statuses. Beware everyone, Facebook knows what you write, and what you don't.