Facebook Friends

by Kieran Healy on December 17, 2007

Not one but _two_ former office mates of mine are quoted on the front page of the Times today in a story about Facebook. Jason Kaufman talks about his work with Nicholas Christakis on patterns of affiliation amongst Facebook users. Our own Eszter Hargittai talks about her research on comparative adoption of Facebook and MySpace. And my brilliant colleague Ron Breiger will doubtless be pleased to see that Georg Simmel gets a shoutout too, for the idea of triadic social closure.



Eszter 12.17.07 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for linking. WaPo also had a piece yesterday looking at academic research about Facebook and such sites. It’s interesting to compare these two articles as the angle is quite different. I won’t say more for now as I’m curious to see whether others (people not doing research in this area, and people not in academia at all) notice much of a difference.

I will say, for the record, that I was misquoted in the WaPo piece, which is disappointing. I can’t imagine I would’ve said that in two years “we may not even call these things social networks.” (“things” referring to sites like Facebook and MySpace, I suspect) since I didn’t talk to the reporter about social networks in general nor would I have said what she quotes me as saying if I had. I spoke to her about social network sites in particular, two concepts that are unfortunate to confuse. I do recall discussing the methodological challenge of how the names of services change and also how users may not call the services what we refer to them by, but those are different issues than some general comment about social networks.


eric 12.17.07 at 2:41 pm

Having just skimmed both articles, the difference appears to be that the Times actually takes the subject seriously, while the WaPo merely uses the story to write yet another “those wacky academics” chuckle piece. In that light, I’m hardly surprised that the WaPo reported misquoted — and probably misunderstood — Eszter, as she (meaning the WaPo reporter, not Eszter!) doesn’t appear to have any actual interest in the research itself.


JSE 12.17.07 at 3:44 pm

The Times article is much better, but neither one says much about the actual content of the research — an opportunity missed.


roger 12.17.07 at 5:05 pm

Yeah, what is with the myspace vs. facebook class and ethnic division? Myself, I actually have a myspace account because you have to have one if you want to see certain vids of the bands that have their sites on myspace – the only reason I can think of to go there. Since I’ve had that account, I’ve had to delete, daily, two or three emails asking to be my friend – even though I’ve never put up a real site. I have noticed that myspace is all about portfolios – you put up music, you advertise events, you put up short films.

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