SAN FRANCISCO — Looking for a job through Facebook?
Close Facebook friends may help more than casual acquaintances, though these intimate friends also can cause you some stress, according to a study by the social media giant.
The report by Facebook research scientist Moira Burke was based on a survey of 3,000 Facebook users who were asked “about major events in their lives, their stress levels, and how much support they received from friends and family,” she wrote Thursday in a Facebook blog.
The study included 169 people who recently lost their jobs.
Burke noted that sociologists point to the “strength of weak ties” in finding work, as acquaintances may have a broader network that could aid in job-hunting. But on Facebook, she added, that’s typically not the case. “Our research found just the opposite,” she wrote. “People who talked more with strong ties were twice as likely to find a new job within three months. And those who talked more with weak ties were less likely to find a job.”
That’s likely because of the nature of Facebook interactions.
“One possibility is that people don’t actually hear about job openings from their weak ties on Facebook,” she said. “People may not reveal their employment plight to contacts they don’t feel close to. Weak tie stories might be about less important topics, like the Super Bowl or their vacation.”
But Facebook connections also can have a double-edged effect for people struggling with unemployment. The Facebook study found that users generally found “social support” on the site, and, Burke added, “their perceived support increased month-to-month, the more they talked with strong ties.
“But there’s a catch,” she added. “Talking with strong ties usually feels good, but if you’ve recently lost your job, it may have the opposite effect. We found that when a subset of the group who had recently lost a job talked more with their strong ties, their stress levels rose.”
The reason apparently has a lot to do with the typical dynamics in any friendship or close relationship. “People may feel their independence threatened by strong ties, increasing resentment rather than relief,” Burke wrote.