Contrary to the widely held assumption that people fake themselves on social networking sites, a new study claimed that netizens use their profiles to communicate real personality, instead of an idealized virtual identity.

According to scientists at the University of Texas, Austin, online social networking profiles like in Facebook convey rather accurate images of the profile owners, either because people aren’t trying to look good or because they are trying and failing to pull it off.

“I was surprised by the findings because the widely held assumption is that people are using their profiles to promote an enhanced impression of themselves,” said lead author Sam Gosling of the research of over 700 million people worldwide who have online profiles.

He said, “These findings suggest that online social networks are not so much about providing positive spin for the profile owners but are instead just another medium for engaging in genuine social interactions, much like the telephone“.

Gosling and a team of researchers collected 236 profiles of college-aged people from the United States (Facebook) and Germany (StudiVZ, SchuelerVZ), journal Psychological Science reported.

“I think that being able to express personality accurately contributes to the popularity of online social networks in two ways. First, it allows people to let others know who they are and second, it means that profile viewers feel they can trust the information,” he added.

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