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Say Cheese!

February 5, 2009

What does your facebook picture say about you? In the social networking world, a thumbnail is worth a thousand words…reflecting your life stage, your values, your interests…and according to a recent research study – how many close friends you have and how happy you are in real life.

The study examined 2,000 college students, interconnected through a school network on Facebook. They found through an analysis of profile pictures and tagged photo albums that those who smile in their profile pictures have more close friends (on average one close friend more) than the non-smilers. Smiling students tend to be surrounded by other smiling students and are more likely to be closer to the center of the network. Those who frown or look serious in their profile pictures are located more on the outskirts of the network and have on average, fewer “close” friends. “Close friends” were determined by who tags who in the photo albums…the hypothesis being that if you take the time to upload and tag the photo, they are likely a good friend. These college students had a average of 110 friends each, but only 6 close “tagged photo” friends.


This figure shows just a part of the Facebook network, containing 353 students. The smiling people who are surrounded by other smiling people are in yellow, those frowning or giving any other “serious” look are in blue, and those in green indicate a mix of smiling and non-smiling friends.

Interesting analysis on networks, and I really like the hypothesis on close tagged photo friends vs. peers or acquantances. Also a good reminder of the wealth of data we have at our fingertips by just taking a second look at the networks and clusters that form in these wildly popular social networks.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    February 5, 2009 11:37 am

    I’d love for us to take a couple of target audience networks and perform this kind of analysis on it.

    And how do you make cool looking molecule visuals? Great post.

  2. MelissaHamilton permalink
    February 5, 2009 3:40 pm

    On the topic of profile pics – the thing that intrigues me is the phenomenon of women around my age simply using pictures of their kids as their profile pic. I would at least make sure that I am in the photo! Talk about losing one’s identity. It would be interesting to see a molecule map of that!

    I would love to see a comm study on profile pics and the expression of one’s identity. Perhaps when I go get my doctorate that will be my thesis.

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