Dr Kerri-Ann Kuhn, from QUT’s School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, said Google+, which launched a trial on June 28 and offered a new way to group contacts, had hit the mark with understanding how close friends want to connect online.
“The strength of Google + is the ability to separate different social circles that can all be communicated with independently of each other,” Dr Kuhn said.
“The reality of Facebook is that your social circle can be large and some of those private conversations you have with friends are in fact quite public.”
Lead researcher Melissa Wilson said the Facebook study of more than 160 Gen Y users aged between 16 and 30, undertaken with QUT researchers Dr Kuhn and Professor Rebekah Russell-Bennett, examined the disclosure of information in terms of the amount of information and the intimacy of information revealed
“Sixty-four per cent of respondents indicated they discuss a broad range of topics with their network on Facebook,” Ms Wilson said.
“Yet in terms of depth of information, less than 5 per cent suggested they disclose intimate information.
“When asked if they felt they could confide in people on Facebook about almost anything, 81 per cent indicated they didn’t feel they could.”
Professor Russell-Bennett said the breadth and depth of information disclosure depended on how users categorised the relationship with their network of friends.
“Consumers that felt close to their network of friends on Facebook disclosed a broader and more intimate array of information compared to those with distant relationships,” Professor Russell-Bennett said.
“However, only 24 per cent of respondents categorised their relationship with their Facebook friends as close, relative to other relationships offline.
“This is not surprising given the fact that many respondents indicated their network included not only friends and family, but also co-workers, neighbours and other associates.”
Dr Kuhn said Google+ will make it simpler and easier for users to exercise control over what they share and with whom.
“But the trick for Google+ will be to attract users away from Facebook in the first place, as this takes effort, not to mention the hassle of having to bring all one’s photos and information across” she said.
“It is likely that users will share different content on Google+ compared to Facebook and discuss different topics. We are likely to see different levels of breath and depth of information disclosure.”
Alita Pashley, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or firstname.lastname@example.org