FB, Twitter good platform for fibbers: Experts

Washington, Mar 6: A person more is likely to lie on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and online dating portals than in a face-to-face conversation, suggest experts.

"Most people believe that given the opportunity, everything else equal, people will lie more online than they would face-to-face," ABC News quoted Jeff Hancock, of the Cornell University as saying.

Hancock called this the "cues heuristic," which means the fewer deception-detecting signals at our disposal, the less we'll trust someone.

At the same time, research indicated that technology, which allows us craft picture-perfect social networking profiles or e-mail in sick when we're lounging on the beach, isn't tempting us to lie any more than we normally do.

"Deception online and face to face is motivated by the same human needs. Technology simply interferes in some ways that might decrease or facilitate the opportunity to lie," said Catalina Toma of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Surprisingly, a study of deception in e-mails versus phone calls found that people were more honest in e-mails because they can be documented, saved and aren't real-time communication scenarios, which is when most people drop white lies.

Technology isn't the gateway to rampant deception; instead, Toma and Hancock both suspected that our distrust of communication technology is more likely rooted in our fear of it.

"We've evolved as a species that talks face to face, and evolution is a slow process, and we're interacting in a new environment where our basic assumptions are undercut," said Hancock. So, in a way, it's natural to expect people to lie more online.

Meanwhile Toma said, "Every time a technology is new, it elicits great fears. Many people are fearful about what it's going to do. So I think fears about deception stem from this general fear of technology and certain features of technologies that make it easy to lie."

However, we can rest easier since people don't always take advantage of these tech-facilitated opportunities to lie.

Hancock and Toma's research on deception in online dating has found that around 80 percent of people pepper their profiles with "very, very small" lies, such as a man saying he's 6 feet tall, when he's really 5 feet 10 inches.

Hancock added, "It's really important to know that there is no single cue that always predicts deception, and a lot of people will tell you differently. And even more importantly, we're not very good as humans at judging deception. So, if someone's trying to lie to us, they have a leg up."


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