Today Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg posted How Many Friends Can You Have? as a followup to her Ad Age Digital Conference keynote. Based on some research by their Data Team she points out the difference between a network of confirmed ties (all friends) and active networks (friends who communicate with each other) -- and argues the value of advertising within communication streams.
- All Friends: the largest representation of a person’s network is the set of all people they have verified as 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.
- One-way Communication: the total set of people with whom a person has communicated.
- Maintained Relationships: to measure engagement, we took the set of people for whom a user had clicked on a News Feed story or visited their profile more than twice.
Putting aside all friends, they graphed the connectivity by modality:
A long time ago I theorized different kinds of active networks for the modes people used weblogs before in The Ecosystem of Networks. I hypothesized that One-way Communication would have greater reach, which makes sense for weblogs. But with the privacy constraints of Facebook this is far less possible than, say, Twitter.
Now, I don't have a data team, but it would be very interesting to see the distribution of people and network size in Twitter for both confirmed ties and unconfirmed ties by reciprocal (@replies), one-way and maintained (RT). The networks and modalities within them are different -- but the difference of public-by-default should be significant.