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New social networking site offers more intimate profiles

A social media site known as Path, also referred to as “The Personal Network,” prides itself on being a more intimate networking site by limiting the number of friends a user can have to 50.

According to Path’s website, it will be different from other social sites because it will allow users to be themselves and be as personal as they want to be with 50 of their closest friends and family members.

Senior advertising and public relations major Adrian Johnston said she thought limiting the number of friends a user can have on a new social networking site may be enough to discourage people from joining.

Johnston, an active Facebook user who has more than 1,700 friends, said she was happy with Facebook and that she would not join Path due to the site’s friend limitation.

According to the Path website, the 50-friend limit was based on the research of Oxford Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar, which suggested that 50 is roughly the outer boundary of our personal networks. The boundary is the group of people who would be trusted most and considered most important to that user.

In comparison, the average Facebook user has 130 friends and will be connected to 80 community pages, groups and events, according to statistics on the Facebook website.

Junior movement science major Elspeth Bittle wrote in an e-mail that she did not use any social networking site.

Bittle wrote that she had no plans to join the site or any other social media site in the near future because she doesn’t have time to maintain one.

“I know you can make them on very high privacy settings, [but] if someone really wants to see it, they will,” Bittle wrote.

The Path site launched last week, and an application for the iPhone is available from the App Store on iTunes or from the Path website. It also will be available to those who do not have iPhones through registration on its website.

Although Johnston said she has used numerous social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, she said there may come a point when there are too many social networking sites that are too similar.

“They are all trying to gear toward something different,” Johnston said. “[But] when they start overlapping is when it gets unnecessary.”

Psychology instructor Pamela Stuntz said she believed that Path could be successful if it finds its own niche in the social networking universe.

“If I was going to limit to 50 friends, then that would be 50 people that I knew and I liked,” she said. “That could be a great benefit for something like cyberbullying because I wouldn’t want to waste a friend on somebody I didn’t care much for.”

The higher the number of friends a person has on a social network can increase the distance between people and open the door for harm to be done in the form of bullying, she said. People often post things without thinking they may be offensive to someone on their friends list as well, she said.

Stuntz said she thought Path could also be successful as a sort of mini-Facebook for younger kids whose parents wanted to monitor who their child’s friends were.

Stuntz said she would like to see more limited social networking sites that could be used to cater to specific groups of friends in order to control who sees what information. She said she saw no reason to leave Facebook for another social networking site that would limit her friends altogether.

The Path offices could not immediately be reached for comment.

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