Social networks are unable to overcome the biological constraints of the number of possible genuine relationships
Emily writes for CorpComms Mag, follow her tweets here @EmilyAVNicholls
It is only possible to keep in genuine contact with up to 150 Twitter followers, despite how many you have, according to new research.
Bruno Goncalves, head of informatics and computing at Indiana University, carried out a study of three million Twitter users and their 380 million tweets over a four year period. The research was an attempt to discover whether British anthropologist Robin Dunbar's claim in the early 90s that humans can only maintain meaningful relationships with up to 150 people extends to social networks.
Goncalves and his colleagues deduced that the numbers of followers stated on an individual's profile does not correlate to genuine friendship or contact. He said that a 'follow' is not enough to provide a valid relationship or bond.
Goncalves proposed that tweets must be exchanged regularly between two users for them to call themselves 'friends'. Once a user follows too many people, the contact between them and those with whom they have weak links disappear.
The results of Goncalves' research mirrored Dunbar's. He said: 'This finding suggests that even though modern social networks help us to log all the people with whom we meet and interact, they are unable to overcome the biological and physical constraints that limit stable social relations.'