Is Facebook Increasing The Size Of Our Personal Networks? Facebook Reveals The Answer

The Facebook data team has published an interesting note about some research they’ve conducted which explores whether or not Facebook is in fact increasing the size of our networks. While Facebook has become an extremely efficient communication tool, does it help us stay in contact better with our existing contacts or is it more efficient at expanding our networks? The results are interesting. According to Facebook, “while the average Facebook user communicates with a small subset of their entire friend network, they maintain relationships with a group two times the size of this core.”

The report details a number of other interesting statistics. For example, the average number of friends on Facebook for any given user remains at around 120, which is relatively close the much cited Dunbar number. The research also finds that an individual’s core network of friends that they “can discuss important matters” with “numbers only 3 for Americans.” In Keith Ferazzi’s latest book “Who’s got your back” he highlights how critical these relationships can be, and how essential they are to any individual’s success.

Outside of the individual’s core group, is a subset of individuals that a user contacts regularly over a 30 day period. The current range is “somewhere between 10 and 20” users. The passive consumption of information about our entire network, via the Facebook News Feed, has clearly had a significant impact though. Essentially what Facebook’s study finds is that one-way relationships (the ability to visit a person’s profile and click on their photos, etc without contacting them) have a significant impact on our ability to keep in touch with more people.

You can view more about the impact on our network via the chart above. Essentially what all of this information means is that we now have the ability to feel connected to a large group of individuals through this new form of passive communication. While we may not be having interdependent relationships with our entire network, we can at least keep in touch and continue to feel much more connected.

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