This is anti-social: Path limits the number of your (online) friends

For some of us, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are all about amassing as many ‘friends’ as possible. Having 25 Facebook friends or 10 Twitter followers is considered insignificant (perhaps you’re not as outgoing as some of your peers or you’re just being anti-social). However, the downside of having lots of  people in your network is that it increases the likelihood of ‘unfortunate‘ images or tweets finding their way across the Internet, despite you wishing you never shared that embarrassing picture or drunken thought …

Path intends to address this problem by restricting your personal network to ‘just’ 50 friends. “Because your personal network is limited to your 50 closest friends and family, you can always trust that you can post any moment, no matter how personal” the company explained in its launch blog post.

The key principle underpinning Path is that the user has full control over who to share personal content with. To this tune, Path provides a feature called “See” which enables users to see which of their 50 friends have seen the moment in real-time. This feature is based on the idea that this understanding enables trust and sharing between close friends and family.

Path chose the maximum number of 50 friends based on the research of Oxford Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar. Dunbar’s theory suggests that 150 is the maximum number of social relationships that the human brain can sustain at any given time. Based on his research, 50 friends is considered to be roughly the outer boundary of our personal networks. Dunbar’s theory suggests that these 50 friends are the people we trust and we consider to be the most important and valued people in our lives.

Taking into account that it has only just been launched, these are the things I’ve learned about Path:

  1. It’s anti-social! Path limits the number of friends you can have in your social network, based on the idea that 50 friends is the maximum number of people you can maintain personal, trusted relationships with.
  2. The user is in control – Path taps into the idea that users want to have full control over who they share their personal content with.
  3. Path doesn’t intend to replace Twitter or Facebook – It sets out to augment these social networks and focuses on the kind of content you only wish to share with your closest friends and family.

Main learning point: I guess Path will work particularly well for those instances where your content is highly sensitive or personal, and you want it to stay within a controlled, trusted environment.

Related links for further learning:

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