An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca: Study after study has demonstrated a link between strong social connections and reduced mortality risk. But does that hold true as our social interactions increasingly take place in online spheres? A new study out of Yale and the University of California suggests that it does. The study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people who use Facebook live longer than those who do not, and that certain types of Facebook activities -- like posting pictures and accepting friend requests -- are associated with a lower risk of mortality. "There's a big debate about online social media. There are people that worry that worry it substitutes for healthy social interaction," co-author James Fowler, a social scientist from University of California, San Diego, told CBC News. The researchers started with 12 million Facebook profiles, then narrowed it down to four million people whose identities could be verified through California's voter registration list. Then they used data from the California Department of Public Health to compare those people to voters who don't use the social networking platform. They found the risk of dying in a given year was 12 per cent lower for Facebook users than non-Facebook users. That doesn't mean Facebook is necessarily good for you, Fowler cautions. Correlation does not prove causation, so it's impossible to say whether being on Facebook makes you healthier, or whether healthy people are more likely to be on Facebook. Still, Fowler said the study does help debunk some of the negative associations people have with social media. "The fact that we found such a strong positive relationship between health and social networks speaks against the hypothesis that they're making us unhealthy in some way," he said.