Data Science of the Facebook World

The ever insightful Stephen Wolfram has another graph-heavy post, this time compiling data on Facebook analytics:

More than a million people have now used our Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook. And as part of our latest update, in addition to collecting some anonymized statistics, we launched a Data Donor program that allows people to contribute detailed data to us for research purposes.

A few weeks ago we decided to start analyzing all this data. And I have to say that if nothing else it’s been a terrific example of the power of Mathematica and the Wolfram Language for doing data science. (It’ll also be good fodder for the Data Science course I’m starting to create.)

We’d always planned to use the data we collect to enhance our Personal Analyticssystem. But I couldn’t resist also trying to do some basic science with it.

I’ve always been interested in people and the trajectories of their lives. But I’ve never been able to combine that with my interest in science. Until now. And it’s been quite a thrill over the past few weeks to see the results we’ve been able to get. Sometimes confirming impressions I’ve had; sometimes showing things I never would have guessed. And all along reminding me of phenomena I’ve studied scientifically in A New Kind of Science.

So what does the data look like? Here are the social networks of a few Data Donors—with clusters of friends given different colors. (Anyone can find their own network usingWolfram|Alpha—or the SocialMediaData function in Mathematica.)

It’s a pretty fascinating read.

My favorite graph was this one of the distribution of  your Facebook friends’ age versus your age:

The age of your Facebook friends versus your age.

The age of your Facebook friends versus your age.

It’s also quite interesting how the marriage statistics from Facebook line up with the official Census data:

Facebook marriage age vs. Census data.

Facebook marriage age vs. Census data.

For a lot more analysis, read Stephen Wolfram’s entire post.

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