Hi Daniel,
You mad many good points. Thanks for sharing these. You are correct that the study is small and friends may - even if uncomfortable - still respond supportively (especially in real life vs. with simulated posts). The study findings are based on a pretty small sample, and of course, can't tell us whether our own online community - or who in it - will be as supportive as they hope we'll be.

I found the study interesting because, like most people, I myself have shared personal, negatively-valenced information on FB - for example, when my dogs have been ill and passed away, when friends have been seriously ill (and when I've had permission to share this), and so forth. I don't do this very often (I am also in the over 40 group who is less likely to do so). And I'm also okay with not everyone responding to my posts. But for many people, it can feel even more distressing to reach out and find fewer supportive reactions and comments than longed for.

Relatedly, there are those who very frequently post highly intimate, negatively-valenced content (we all know someone like this) and often wind up feeling disappointed when they don't receive the level of support they hoped for. That, or it's always the same few people offering support and encouragement. It may be worth understanding that some who would possibly be supportive may simply be uncomfortable with public posts about distressing information.

So, my take on how these findings may be helpful are, again, for those who are really struggling, or simply want more, and more personal support, offline is probably more likely to yield this - even if it's to reach out more personally to some of the people who are also supportive online.

But again, your points are well made, and I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.