Tag Archives: facebook

Pretending not to. Social networks as covers (both for love and work)

Great paper by Mikolaj Jan Piskorski (Harvard Business School) “Networks as Covers: Evidence from business and social On-line Networks” . Amazing which patterns everybody can unveil when (almost) all out social interactions leave electronic trails everybody can collect and analyze! Amazing and of course scary!

This paper proposes that networks can act as covers which allow actors to participate in markets while maintaining a plausible excuse that they are not. Most generally, a cover is any action which allows ego to signal to alter that he is of type A when in reality they are of type B.

Evidence from Linkedin: “LinkedIn allows people who are currently employed to go on the job market without looking like they are on the job market. Recruiters are attracted to LinkedIn because they can obtain access to people who are ordinarily very hard to find in the labor market. Interviews with employers reveal that they are aware of this function of LinkedIn, and lose their employees this way.

Evidence from another network (the paper does not explicit which one but says “the network has been designed largely for people to keep in touch with their friends, and not for business purposes. Results indicate that almost 70 per cent of all activity on this on-line network is related to viewing profiles and pictures of others.”, so I might guess the network is Facebook, wondering why Mikolaj didn’t write which is the network… ): Men in particular look at pictures of women they do not know. Furthermore, regression analysis shows that men who publicly declared themselves to be in a relationship are more likely to examine profiles and pictures of women they do not know. Consistent with the view of networks as covers, (…) men in relationships and with large on-line networks are more like to look at women they do not know. In contrast, single men with large networks are more likely to look at women they do know. Implications for network theories as they pertain to organizations are explored.

Credits for picture: pagedooley from Flickr Creative Commons released

Social networking 4 your business

I presentation I gave on June 10th 2009 at Trentino Sviluppo, local agency in charge of developing local businesses. It is about the how and why (and why not) of using social networking systems such as Facebook or Twitter for small businesses. The slides are released under Creative Commons By-Attribution so share them, play with them, tear them apart! The only exception are the two photos below for which I don’t know who the copyright holder is. If you know please get in contact with me. Thanks!

Dump 10 Facebook friends and get a free sandwich!

whopper sacrifice screenshot
Aggressive and creative marketing campaign by Burger King.

What would you do for a free Whopper? Now is the time to put your fair-weather Web friendships to the test. Install Whopper Sacrifice on your Facebook profile, and we’ll reward you with a free flame-broiled Whopper when you sacrifice 10 of your friends.

InsideFacebook reports that in one week, the app was used by 82,000 people to delete over 230,000 friendships on Facebook. Then Facebook placed some restrictions on the application and Burger King decided to conclude their campaign. In fact, Burger King got what it wanted: attention! In few days!
Creative use of social networking marketing!!!

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One identity (system) to rule them all

Lots of competition and activities for becoming the defacto identity system for the future Web.

faebook connect
Facebook pushes Facebook connect

Google friends
Google pushes Google Friend Connect

data portability
While MySpace Embraces DataPortability, Partners With Yahoo, Ebay And Twitter.

one ring
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Insights into relationships on Facebook

Interesting blog post by Cameron Marlow, research scientist at Facebook over at overstated.net: Maintained Relationships on Facebook.

They start from a simple question: is Facebook increasing the size of people’s personal networks?

They looked at the communications of a random sample of users over the course of 30 days and defined networks in 4 different ways:

  • All Friends: the largest representation of a person’s network is the set of all people they have verified as friends. In research papers this number ranges between 300 and 3000. In facebook on average every users has 120 friends.
  • Reciprocal Communication: as a measure of a sort of core network, we counted the number of people with whom a person had had reciprocal communications, or an active exchange of information between two parties. In research papers, this numbers ranges from 3 as individuals with whom I can discuss important matters (for Americans) to 10 or 20 as ongoing contacts at a university.
  • One-way Communication: the total set of people with whom a person has communicated.
  • Maintained Relationships: the set of people for whom a user had clicked on a News Feed story or visited their profile more than twice. This is a sort of over-the-shoulder relationship, I’m “following” (this is the relationship type) the target user without she necessarily knowing it. This is a new type of relationship (not really available says 50 years ago), similar to reading the flow of thoughts of someone via a blog or just looking at the pictures uploaded on Flickr.

An interesting observation: “as a function of the people a Facebook user actively communicate with, you are passively engaging with between 2 and 2.5 times more people in their network”.

And another one: The stark contrast between reciprocal and passive networks shows the effect of technologies such as News Feed. If these people were required to talk on the phone to each other, we might see something like the reciprocal network, where everyone is connected to a small number of individuals. Moving to an environment where everyone is passively engaged with each other, some event, such as a new baby or engagement can propagate very quickly through this highly connected network.

facebook stats

The consequences of opensourcing Facebook code

Some weeks ago Facebook released its source code as Free and Open Source Software.
I’m very curious about the consequences of this action. Initially I was to suppose this choice would have been a tsunami in the social networking sites world, but I haven’t found many mentions of this around. So I tried to look around and to answer the question “Which were the consequences of Facebook making its code opensource?”.
I don’t have a clear idea, but it seems very small consequences.
How many clones of facebook popped up? Are they used? I haven’t found any facebook clone worth mentioning.

How many people downloaded the code? How many code patches were provided to Facebook? I guess one of the biggest intended consequences was this one: Facebook getting bug fixes, and chunks of code or suggestions on how to improve performances. Also, it is now easier, I think, for Facebook hiring new developers because they can know them in advance from the commits and suggestions they write about Facebook code. But for example there have been any exploit from people reading the code and finding weaknesses? Probably not, it is much more meaningful, if you discover a glitch to send an email just to Facebook to explain it, there is a chance Facebook might want to hire you as security expert.
Overall, Facebook is better off or worst off after the decision to release the code as Free Software? I was not able to get too much information about this and I’m a bit surprised. Actually I haven’t yet downloaded the code in order to test it. I was about to do it but then for Webvalley we decided to use BuddyPress so “check Facebook code” is still in the todo list.

Some interesting links which might be worth checking in more detail: open source projects on facebook wiki, the portal for developers on Facebook code (interesting!), Project Cassandra: Facebook’s Open Source Alternative to Google BigTable, the fact Google recently released its Protocol Buffers as open source, Facebook did it much earlier with Thrift.

So, did I miss something? What do you think were the consequences of Facebook opensourcing its code?

Facebook Opensource, license and motivations to contribute

Facebook is open source! This is an incredibly good news.
The license they chose is interesting.

Facebook Open Platform (except for the FBML parser) is licensed under a Common Public Attribution License (CPAL), which follows the Mozilla Public License (MPL) with two additions:
1. That you include attribution to Facebook on any modifications.
2. That network deployment, or making modifications available over the network, counts as distribution, which makes the license appropriate for Web services.

I would have bet for an Affero GPL instead, what is the difference and why did they choose CPAL instead of AGPL?

About motivation, well, t-shirts ;)

If you’d like to contribute to Facebook Open Platform, please sign and return our Contribution Agreement. We’ll evaluate any submitted patches or features to decide whether they’d be strong inclusions into the overall Facebook Open Platform release. If we incorporate your changes, we’ll send you a t-shirt!