Are Facebook Friendships Post-Racial?

October 29, 2010

The post-racial society does exist … on Facebook. This according to researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Los Angeles, who found that shared racial background is not an important factor for students when deciding whom to connect with on the popular social networking site. The paper, which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Sociology, bases its finding not just on whether students extended or accepted friendship requests from students of another race, but whether they were tagging those students in photo albums on Facebook — an act that implies not only a deeper level of virtual connection, but also that the students hung out in real life, too, the researchers say. Although the sample is limited to a single college class at a top-tier university, the researchers say the findings demonstrate that “past research might have exaggerated the role of race in social relationships,” according to a UCLA news release. Based on the rate at which students from prep-school backgrounds tended to connect on Facebook, the authors note that socioeconomic class could be a far more salient factor.

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