, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 481-489

Major memory for microblogs

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Abstract

Online social networking is vastly popular and permits its members to post their thoughts as microblogs, an opportunity that people exploit, on Facebook alone, over 30 million times an hour. Such trivial ephemera, one might think, should vanish quickly from memory; conversely, they may comprise the sort of information that our memories are tuned to recognize, if that which we readily generate, we also readily store. In the first two experiments, participants’ memory for Facebook posts was found to be strikingly stronger than their memory for human faces or sentences from books—a magnitude comparable to the difference in memory strength between amnesics and healthy controls. The second experiment suggested that this difference is not due to Facebook posts spontaneously generating social elaboration, because memory for posts is enhanced as much by adding social elaboration as is memory for book sentences. Our final experiment, using headlines, sentences, and reader comments from articles, suggested that the remarkable memory for microblogs is also not due to their completeness or simply their topic, but may be a more general phenomenon of their being the largely spontaneous and natural emanations of the human mind.