For the first time, the dynamics of how Facebook user communities are formed have been identified, revealing surprisingly few large communities and innumerable highly connected small-size communities. These findings are about to be published in EPJ Data Science by Italian scientist Emilio Ferrara, affiliated with both Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, USA and his home University of Messina. This work could ultimately help identify the most efficient way to spread information, such as advertising, or ideas over large networks.
No previous work has attempted to analyse the community structure of Facebook as a proxy to understanding real world communities at the same scale.
The author elected to analyse Facebook with the mathematical tools typically used to study complex systems in order to uncover its dynamics. First, Ferrara acquired a snapshot of the structure of the users' friendship network using several techniques of statistical sampling applied to the anonymised public profiles of Facebook users. He then validated his approach to detect communities by comparing the outcome of several statistical methods and by using various algorithms.
He found that Facebook communities emerge as a result of the network's structure, which is based on creating networks of friends. It therefore has little to do with how individual users behave. Ferrara also realised that only few large communities emerge. Instead, users tend to aggregate in small-sized communities that are extremely interconnected. This type of structure is known to optimise the efficiency of communications among users. Indeed, short paths of communication can connect any pair of users, even if they belong to completely disparate communities.
Ultimately, this approach could be applied to verify a social theory known as Granovetter's "strength of weak ties", whereby loose interconnections among users yield better opportunities and more efficient communication channels.
E. Ferrara (2012), A large-scale community structure analysis in Facebook, EPJ Data Science 1:9, DOI 10.1140/epjds9
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
One of the first website servers was developed at Stanford University in 1991. Archivists have kept the sites active showing a living history of the Internet. KPIX's John Ramos takes a look at web technology in its infancy.
A team of deaf entrepreneurs has developed a revolutionary way for the hearing and hearing-impaired to communicate
It is surprisingly difficult to build computers that can recognise the many different objects we see every day, but they are getting better all the time
We're beginning to understand how digital devices affect literacy – but don't assume that paper is always better than screens
Nestle Japan will put 1,000 humanoid robots to work as sales clerks
A new feature of most browsers will let them issue alerts through a PC or mobile operating system. What some call the smartphone era might better be termed the notification era.
The FTC says up to 3.5 million of AT&T's high use customers had their data stream "throttled" 60-90 percent -- leaving some smartphones "practically inoperable." Wyatt Andrews reports.
HaptoMime uses reflective surfaces to create a floating virtual screen that you can actually feel
Artificial intelligence is "our biggest existential threat," said the SpaceX and Tesla founder
Museum unveils the UKs first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communications technology