Connected and Apart: An Analysis of Friendship Proximity and Population Dispersal

Jonathan D. Stringfield, Facebook
Mike Develin, Facebook

The relationship between developments in technology and the impact upon population dynamics are fairly well known, and often pivotal in the directionality and magnitude of human population growth. While populations follow biological regularities, such regularities do not exist in vacuum. Specifically, population dynamics ride on the ebbs and flows of technological development. Herein we analyze one such technology: Online social networks using data from Facebook. The basic goal of this work is to describe the contours of physical proximity upon “virtual” friendship relationships established on Facebook. Though relatively modest in terms of empirical contributions, the larger theoretical implications are manifold: Specifically, the particulars of this work being to elucidate the extent to which physical proximity is or is not a necessary component of human connectedness and how human connectedness differentiates based in part on proximity. The implications of such findings towards population density, sprawl, and other population processes are numerous.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 133: Social Media, Digital Tracks and Demography