Mumbai: The 1.28 billion people who check their Facebook accounts daily could fall in either of these four categories: relationship builders, town criers, selfies and window shoppers, according to new research by a team of three Brigham Young University professors.

Relationship builders post, respond to others’ posts and use additional Facebook features mostly in an attempt to fortify relationships that exist beyond their virtual world.

“They use it as an extension of their real life, with their family and real-life friends," lead author Tom Robinson said in a 5 July press note. People in this group identified strongly with such statements as “Facebook helps me to express love to my family and lets my family express love to me."

Town criers experience a much larger gap between their real and virtual worlds. Unconcerned with sharing photos, stories or other information about themselves, they instead “want to inform everybody about what’s going on," Robinson added. Town criers are “pushing out information". They repost news stories, announce events—but may otherwise neglect their profile pages, preferring to update family and friends through alternative means.

Selfies use Facebook to self-promote. Like relationship builders, they post pictures, videos and text updates. However, unlike relationship builders, they’re focused on getting attention, likes and comments. Study participants in this category identified highly with the statement “The more ‘like’ notification alarms I receive, the more I feel approved by my peers." Selfies, said study co-author Kris Boyle, use the platform “to present an image of themselves, whether it’s accurate or not."

Window shoppers, similar to town criers, feel a sense of social obligation to be on Facebook but rarely post personal information. Unlike town criers, these users, said study co-author Clark Callahan, “want to see what other people are doing. It’s the social-media equivalent of people watching." Window shoppers identified with such statements as “I can freely look at the Facebook profile of someone I have a crush on and know their interests and relationship status."

The researchers compiled a list of 48 statements identifying potential reasons people use Facebook. They asked questions such as: “What is it about this social-media platform that has taken over the world?". “Why are people so willing to put their lives on display? and “Why do you like this?"

Though previous Facebook-related research has explored users with relationship-builder and selfie characteristics, Robinson said, the town criers and window shoppers were an “unexpected find".

One could argue, though, that regardless of these broad categories , there are tens of other ways one can slot the 2 billion monthly active users of Facebook.

Here are some nuggets culled from the internet:

‘Like’rs who like posts for no apparent rhyme or reason

‘Wow’er Is who are in awe of posts

Over Sharer who keep on sharing posts throughout the day--about cats, dogs, uncles, aunties, neighbours, kids, etc.

Company promoters who talk only about his/her company’s products

Pontificators who have a say on practically every issue and subject without any real expertise in any one subject

Confessors who come on FB to talk about the regrets in their lives (Is there a relationship between loneliness and self-disclosure in social networking sites?)

Advisors who tell regulators and governments how to rule; cricketers how to play, etc.

Perpetual Tourists who are always on the move, and post pictures of exotic locales.

Uber Taggers who will tag you on just about any comment or post

This is only an indicative list. We leave it to your imagination to complete it.

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