the cups blog


“I regretted the minute I pressed share”: A Qualitative Study of Regrets on Facebook (Paper 10)

Yang Wang, Carnegie Mellon University
Gregory Norcie, Carnegie Mellon University
Saranga Komanduri, Carnegie Mellon University
Pedro Giovanni Leon, Carnegie Mellon University
Lorrie Faith Cranor, Carnegie Mellon University
Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon University

This study looked at what negative experiences people are having on Facebook. In particular the authors asked people if they have ever regretted what they posted on Facebook and why.


  • What do users regret posting?
  • Why do users make these posts?
  • What are the consequences?

Surveyed 321 Facebook users on Mechanical Turk but didn’t get much data. Then did semi-structured interviews of 19 Facebook participants but only got a few regrets. Tried a diary study, but got very few regrets. Finally did a revised online survey.

What did people regret?

  • Things about other people
  • Relationships
  • Controversial topics
  • Negative content
  • Personal information and work

Why post regretable things?

  • “It’s cool”, “It’s funny”
  • “I didn’t think”
  • “Hot” states – angry, frustrated, excited, drunk, etc
  • Unintended audience – “I didn’t know he can see it”
  • Accidents – “I didn’t know I posted”


Q1: Do you think Google+ does any better than Facebook in terms of your design ideas?

A1: Not any better on awareness. They make some progress on Avoiding unintended audiences, they do popup a message before you re-share something? Make people think, I have seen some of this in Gmail. I haven’t seen prediction of regrets.

Q2: Facebook reminds you of people you talk with frequently, but not those you don’t talk with. It is against Facebook’s model to encourage small friend lists.

A2: It is in the interest of these social network operators to think about privacy. I think especially with Google Circle entering the picture.

Read the full paper at: