How does the end of a real-life relationship change our enduring relationship with social networks? What can be done to make real-life breakups less debilitating? How can we make them harder, if we're into that sort of thing for artistic suffering or whatever, not that I am?
Since almost 20 percent of the world population, more than 1.3 billion humans, is active on Facebook every month, the Facebook Data Science team stands to tell us a lot about how we livin' and how we cope in the digital age. Just like how Google thinks it can predict flu outbreaks, Facebook's stockpiles of activity logs are becoming a serious player in the epidemiology of behavioral pathology.
The Facebook team reviewed data from "people who were on the receiving end of a separation" and looked at how their Facebook activity changed before and after said separation. They define being on the receiving end of a separation as "people who had been in a relationship for at least four weeks with someone who then switched their relationship status to 'Single.'"
By "in a relationship," they do mean a status that said literally "In a relationship," as well as those that indicated engagement, marriage, domestic partnership, civil union, and the like. The Facebook team measured how many messages these people sent and received, how many timeline posts they posted themselves or had thrust upon them, and the number of comments those posts got.