If you’ve been defriending a lot lately, you’re not alone.

A new study out from Pew today confirms what we already know: People don’t want to collect as many Facebook friends as possible. Social networkers are becoming more selective, managing their accounts and “pruning” people from their lists. More users are untagging themselves from photos, deleting comments and unfriending others. Women and younger users tend to prune more than others: 67% of women with social network site profiles have deleted users compared with 58% of men.

Increased privacy and reputation management on social networks is important, especially in the Timelinepost-Facebook IPO era. Facebook is no longer that confusing shiny new toy; it is a part of our digital lives. Quit now if you want; or figure out how to best manage the personality that you want others to see.

Today, more than half of social networkers (58%) say their main profile is set to friends-only; 19% set their profile as viewable to friends of friends in addition to just friends. Only 20% of users leave their profile completely public. That last set of people are most likely a mix of Facebook power users, whose profiles are meant only as hubs for discussion and conversation, and uninformed users who do not know how to adjust their privacy settings.

To that point, 48% of social media users say that managing privacy controls is difficult, yet a total 49% say it is quite easy. Only 2% have a “very difficult time” with privacy settings.

I Bet You Wish You Hadn’t Posted That

The study also reveals that 11% of users say they have posted content they regret. Men are more than twice as regretful as women: 15% say they wish they hadn’t shared certain information, versus only 8% of women. But men are more likely to set their profiles to public or partially private, which leads one to infer that perhaps it’s less about the content they post and more about the pruning they should be doing.

Similarly, young adults ages 18-29 confess to posting content they wish they hadn’t shared. It’s true: We are vulnerable on social networks.

Most social network users are concentrated on Facebook. According to Pew, 93% of profile owners have an account on Facebook, which is a 20% increase from 2009. Twitter has grown significantly since 2009; more than 55% of social networkers are on Twitter, up from 45% three years ago.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

alicia eler