Are Friends Overrated? A Study for the Social Aggregator Digg.com

Abstract : The key feature of online social networks is the ability of users to become active, make friends and interact with those around them. Such interaction is typically perceived as critical to these platforms; therefore, a significant share of research has investigated the characteristics of social links, friendship relations, community structure, searching for the role and importance of individual members.In this paper, we present results from a multi-year study of the online social network Digg.com, indicating that the importance of friends and the friend network in the propagation of information is less than originally perceived. While we note that users form and maintain social structure, the importance of these links and their contribution is very low: Even nearly identically interested friends are only activated with a probability of 2% and only in 50% of stories that became popular we find evidence that the social ties were critical to the spread.
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Christian Doerr, Siyu Tang, Norbert Blenn, Piet Mieghem. Are Friends Overrated? A Study for the Social Aggregator Digg.com. 10th IFIP Networking Conference (NETWORKING), May 2011, Valencia, Spain. pp.314-327, ⟨10.1007/978-3-642-20798-3_24⟩. ⟨hal-01597982⟩

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