A study by Wolfram Alpha, a company that uses big data research methods to evaluate information of Facebook users, reveals that information collected from Facebook actually depicts real-life behavior and that the social networking site fails as a representation of society.
But according to Stephen Wolfram, the creator of Wolfram Alpha as well as the Mathematical software that is used to analyze Facebook information, “To me it’s that it seems one can do accurate demographics just using data from Facebook. We see evidence of this in the agreement with Census data.” Wolfram zeroed in on how much potential the analysis has: “I’m excited about the natural language processing and topic analysis; I think there’s a lot that can be done along those lines.”
A collection of various social network users revealed a unique form of configuration on their accounts. However, there was a correlation between age and the number of networks users have. Younger people have a limited number of social ties, since they belong to various network groups.
It’s shocking how profiles on Facebook actually reveal real life behavior. And that’s not the only example in this article. For example, Wolfram analyzed texts that he collected from Facebook profiles to figure out how often different genders used specific keywords. The results confirm conventional gender habits, such as men use keywords such as “Sports” and “video games”, while women talk more about “relationships” and “fashion”.
Most of the information taken says more about Facebook users rather than society itself. However, the average age of Facebook users is significantly lower than the average age in the U.S., since there are younger people on the social networking site. Piled up against the U.S. Census, the age distribution of users on Facebook is highly skewed towards younger people. What’s even more interesting to note is the correlation between the ages of your friends as well as your own age. The results conclude that the younger a user will be, the more homogenous their network of friends will be, since most young users will connect with people of their own age. However, when it comes to older users, their networks a bit diverse, which is something that is expected since users who joined Facebook at the age of 30 could only connect with college students or their peers, because Faecbook was targeting college students.
Some of the data that is collected from Facebook actually fits perfectly according to social trends, but vagaries are bound to pop up once in a while. For example, the number of people that switch from being “single” to “married” increases as Facebook users get older, which is similar to the average age of people getting married in real life. However, some of this information can be inconsistent since many young users find it funny to change their status.
Although, there isn’t any specific analytical tool that can be used to measure all of the social networks, Wolfram isn’t ruling out the option of creating more programs in the future, he said, “We’re hoping in future to extend our personal analytics system to cover as many social networks as possible.”