Yesterday, Facebook released the results of an internal study about the status updates of its users. In it, the found a high correlation between a user’s popularity and the tone of his updates. Unfortunately, some tech journalists, such as David Murphy at PC World, took this to be the secret to popularity on Facebook.
As anyone who’s taken Psychology 101 in college will tell you: correlation != causation. This is especially true in this particular case since a significant percentage of Facebook user status updates are non-public and are invisible to other users who aren’t friends. This means that the decision to friend request another user is overwhelmingly likely to be independent of the other user’s status updates.