The social network's structure optimizes the sharing of information in a way that Twitter's hierarchical setup does not.
PROBLEM: The goal of a social network, we constantly try to convince our sharing-everything-on-the-Internet-averse friends, is to connect to others in a way that enhances -- not replaces -- the real-world communities in which we exist. But if we were to zoom out and look at everything happening on Facebook beyond the limited vantage point of our newsfeeds, would we see that this is actually the case?
- Domestic Violence Increases After Major Sporting Events
- People Who Exercise Have Larger Brains Later in Life
- People Living in Poverty Are Twice as Likely to Be Depressed
METHODOLOGY: Sampling something as large and amorphous as Facebook is no simple task. Emilio Ferrara, of both Indiana University and Italy's University of Messina, used sophisticated data-mining to identify public profiles, developed complex algorithms to track users' interactions with other users, and mapping the networks that emerged. Users remained anonymous -- Ferrara reduced us all to numbers in order to understand our interactions from a statistical viewpoint.
RESULTS: Ferrara discovered that, without intending to do so, Facebook users are driven by the network's very structure to group themselves into a large number of small communities, all joined together into the monolith we call Facebook by their social connections. Large groups containing a majority of users are a rarity, but that doesn't mean that each group of friends exists in its own bubble -- instead, the smaller communities are highly interconnected in a way that two people with nothing in common are often connected by short, easily traversable paths of communication.