Distant Friends Spread Data The Most On Facebook

Distant contacts are primarily repsonsible for spreading data on the social network.

Not pruning your friend list can expose you to more information: Facebook’s data team says that distant contacts are primarily repsonsible for spreading data on the social network.

We might trust the personal opinions of our closest friends the most, but they are fewer in number than the folks we don’t know as well. But factual information, shared in links and other content, spreads through distant contacts.

So it’s in marketers’ best interest for all of us to keep expanding our personal networks.

Facebook Data Scientist Eytan Bakshy explains this in a blog post:

The information we consume and share on Facebook is actually much more diverse in nature than conventional wisdom might suggest.<

We are exposed to and spread more information from our distant contacts than our close friends. Since these distant contacts tend to be different from us, the bulk of information we consume and share comes from people with different perspectives.

This may provide some comfort to those who worry that social networks are simply an echo chamber where people are only exposed to those who share the same opinions.

Our work is among the first to rigorously quantify influence at a mass scale, and shows that online social networks can serve as an important medium for sharing new perspectives, products and world events.

Readers, do these findings make you want to grow your friend list further?