Graphs displaying the prevalence of World Cup-related keywords in status updates have been posted by Facebook’s own Page to a photo album called Heartbeat of the World Cup. While the charts are entertaining, the lack of a Y-axis detailing the actual volume of status messages featuring a keyword limits interpretation of the data.
The “Heartbeat of the World Cup” graphs look very similar to those created by Facebook’s now deactivated Lexicon, a visualization tool that charted the frequency of keywords in wall posts. The only reference point to volume is that “About 30 percent of all status updates on Facebook during the course of [the England-USA] match included a word relevant to the World Cup.” From Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s comment that the site processed 45 million status updates a day in late 2009, and a 2 hour match length, we can infer that’s more than roughly 1.125 million status updates.
The user comments are also interesting. Some Facebook users are not accustomed to seeing statistics about their updates, leading them to question if their privacy had been violated. One user states “thats cool how u can take those stats… kinda creepy tho”, while another exclaimed, “o its like big brother watching over us …spooky !!” As analysis of user behavior is common by successful web companies and the data is only shown in aggregate, there is no true need for concern. However, Facebook could preemptively educate their users with a methodology disclaimer to avoid these kind of complaints. Some also felt that only analyzing english words skewed the tallies, “You didn’t count ‘goal’ in other languages too? Isn’t it a bit unfair?”. Others saw the humor in the graphs, explaining “you need to keep track of the word G000000000000000l!!!!! as well”. Overall, the thousands of likes and comments the post has received in the last two hours suggest that users are quite interested in learning more about the sentiments of the Facebook population as a whole.