Graduation year drives Facebook connections for college grads

Apr 30, 2012
Graduation year drives Facebook connections for college grads
Sharing a graduation year, rather than other factors, drives online social networks for college graduates. Credit: North Carolina State University

Are you connected to college friends on Facebook? Research from North Carolina State University shows that these social networks tend to form around graduation year or university housing – rather than other interests.

Researchers examined the first 100 colleges and universities to have students, faculty or staff join when the site exclusively contained .edu email addresses. As students, faculty and staff joined Facebook, social networks were formed. Each university, in essence, formed its own network – ranging in size from 762 to 50,000.

"We wanted to see what defining characteristics grouped people together within these networks," says Amanda Traud, a Ph.D. student in biomathematics at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the study. The social networks studied in this case included all of the users and their Facebook friends from these schools in September 2005. The data was given to the researchers by Adam D'Angelo of Facebook.

The researchers used community detection techniques to identify groups within each network. A community was defined as a group in which individuals were more connected to each other than to the rest of the network. The researchers then used statistical tools to determine what characteristics dominated each group.

"We found that most groups were largely composed of people with the same graduation year, though some groups were composed of people who lived in the same university housing," Traud says. "I found it interesting that the subject people majored in and where people went to high school played little to no role in the social structure."

The university networks that had groups dominated by housing also tended to have smaller residence halls, or halls in which students lived for more than one year.

"This indicates that universities can contribute to creating a strong sense of community among students by manipulating their student housing efforts," Traud says. "In the absence of these efforts, year seems to be the default."

Explore further: Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

13 hours ago

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

16 hours ago

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...