This is why you won't unfriend that annoying person on Facebook
We all have those people in our Facebook circles - the ones who clog your newsfeed with inspirational quotes, angry rants, and smug bragging, not to mention those who just try to pick fights with everyone (take the hint mum).
But, for the sake of diplomacy, most of us will just hide these people from our feeds, or "unfollow" them - rather than simply cut that person out of our digital lives with the more confrontational "unfriend" click.
Well, researchers at Nottingham Trent University have been studying the topic, and believe they have pinpointed why we don't delete irritating or problematic acquaintances online.
The study says that people tolerate online "troublemakers" because those people tend to be socially well-connected. On top of that, most people will keep them as Facebook friends because they are worried about the real world consequences of "unfriending".
Researchers looked at 5,113 contacts from 52 Facebook users, aged between 13 - 45, and generated random samples of 100 of these types of friends. They then invited subjects to rate the friends in terms of online disagreement, relational closeness, and frequency of communication.
Nottingham Trent social sciences PhD student Sarah Buglass, lead author on the study, broke down the results to the Nottingham Post.
Really enjoyed presenting my research on online troublemakers today #bpsconf @PsychologyNTU
— Dr Sarah Buglass (@sarah_buglass) April 27, 2016
"Facebook users appear to be harbouring known online troublemakers on their Facebook networks. While some were not averse to reporting the online indiscretions of others to the service provider, many more choose to merely ignore them.
"It appears that they don't want to communicate with the troublemakers online for risk of damaging their own reputation, but at the same time they don't appear to want to unfriend them either."
Thanks to the popularity of social media I now have less friends. It's not until Facebook that you realise how annoying they really are.
— Jay Tuvz (@JayTuvz) April 26, 2016
"The social repercussions of unfriending someone reach far beyond the boundaries of the online network. People don't want to risk causing offline tension with their friends, family members or colleagues by disconnecting them from their online lives.
"Remaining online friends with troublemakers appears to be a social necessity for some."
The Nottingham study also found that online spats tend to be more frequent among 19 - 21-year-olds.
This story originally appeared on JOE.co.uk.