Facebook users prone to financial risk taking, study says

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Facebook and money don’t mix, according to one new study, which shows that those who engage in online gambling or investing are more likely to take financial risks after spending time on the social network.

While other studies have shown that browsing Facebook profiles can lead to risky behaviors — notably binge drinking — Dr. Eugene Chan at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia warned Facebook users of another specific type of risky behavior. The study, published in the academic journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that users see their Facebook friends as a sort of safety net against their financial losses.

“It is not just being a user of Facebook that increases financial risk-taking. Only those who actively browsed Facebook subsequently invested in more stock,” Chan said. Chan’s reasoning is that Facebook users felt that they had more support from friends and family regarding their decisions in general, also giving them a sense of certainty when they made financial decisions.

Chan said he is more cautious on Facebook after presenting his findings. In addition to warning Facebook users not to purchase stocks, Chan also suggested that governments should take heed of the study and consider laws preventing users from going straight from Facebook to online financial or gaming sites. This would mean financial and gambling sites would be banned from advertising on Facebook, and possibly force them to reconstruct their advertising budgets if Chan’s suggestions were implemented.

One of his main concerns is social media sites taking advantage of the study to strategically place advertisements to increase click-through rates, and Chan also said that a similar trend could happen among LinkedIn and Twitter users as well. Further research concerning those who actively use these two sites is necessary, he said.

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