Facebook Usage Patterns

In a recent Facebook blog post titled "What is on your mind?", one million Facebook status updates were analyzed to explore patterns. This is an example of a data mining exercise as covered in Information and Analytics.

Interesting findings include:

  • Younger people express more negative emotions (including anger) and swear more. They talk more about self and school.
  • Older people write longer updates and talk more about other people including family.
  • More popular people (defined by greater friend count) write longer updates and talk more about music and sports. Popular people also talk less about family and are less emotional overall.
  • Generally, people talk about what they are doing (or should be doing) during particular times of the day.
    • About sleep at night (doing) and early morning (should be doing).
    • About work and school in the morning.
    • About social activity and leisure are low in morning, increasing as the day goes on.
  • Positive emotional word use is higher in the morning with corresponding lower use of negative emotional words. This ratio reverses as the day goes on as positivity decreases and negativity increases.
  • Unsurprisingly, positive emotional status updates receive more likes while negative ones receive fewer likes.
  • Surprisingly, positive status updates receive fewer comments while negative ones receive more comments.
  • Birds of a feather flock together, and so do humans. People associate with similar-minded people.

Here are findings that would be interesting to know:

  • Usage frequency by demographic.
  • Usage breakdown comparing personal use versus as a networking tool.
  • How personal do Facebook networking friendships become?
  • How long do users spend on Facebook?
  • When are Facebook users most active?
  • Breakdown of time spent watching versus posting/commenting.
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