Bowling Alone and Trust Decline in Social Network Sites
Paolo Massa, Martino Salvetti, Danilo Tomasoni
The 2009 IEEE International Symposium on Social Computing and Networking (SocialNet’09) 2009 Eighth IEEE International Conference on Dependable, Autonomic and Secure Computing Chengdu, China ISBN: 978-0-7695-3929-4
December 12-14, 2009

Bowling Alone and Trust Decline in Social Network Sites

In this paper we analyze the community of a social network site, Advogato. The peculiar characteristics of Advogato is that users can explicitly express weighted trust relationships among themselves. We conduct a longitudinal analysis of the trust network over a time period of 4 years, exploring the community as it grew from a knit circle of 300 users to an society of almost 6500 individuals. We report the changes over time of standard indexes in social network analysis such as clustering and degrees of separation. We then focus on specific measures about trust such as reciprocity and changes over time of average trust. A decline in trust is observed as the community grows. Following what we believe to be the first empirical analysis of trust evolution over time in a real community, we conclude suggesting how the availability of data about human relationships in social network sites is opening up the possibility of monitoring changes in trust in real time. In order to foster this research line, we released the datasets and the code we used in our analysis.

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