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Facebook users keep it real in online profiles

Young adults apparently present their true selves on the world's biggest social network

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4:38pm, February 26, 2010

“On the Internet,” one dog tells another in a classic New Yorker cartoon, “nobody knows you’re a dog.”

The Internet is notorious for its digital dens of deception. But on Facebook, what you see tends to be what you get — at least in one study of tailless, two-legged young adults.

College-age users of Facebook in the United States and a similar social networking site in Germany typically present accurate versions of their personalities in online profiles, says psychologist Mitja Back of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. People use online social networking sites to express who they really are rather than idealized versions of themselves, Back and his colleagues conclude in an upcoming Psychological Science.

“Online social networks are so popular and so likely to reveal people’s actual personalities because they allow for social interactions that feel real in many ways,” Back says.

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