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Predicting Tie Strength with Social Media Eric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios CHI 2009 Based on the authors’ slide deck

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Presentation on theme: "Predicting Tie Strength with Social Media Eric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios CHI 2009 Based on the authors’ slide deck"— Presentation transcript:

1 Predicting Tie Strength with Social Media Eric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios CHI 2009 Based on the authors’ slide deck

2 TIE STRENGTH: concept & impact The strength of a tie is a (probably linear) combination of the amount of TIME, the emotional INTENSITY, the INTIMACY (mutual confiding), and the reciprocal SERVICES which characterize the tie. — Granovetter STRONG TIES are the people you really trust WEAK TIES, conversely, are merely acquaintances

3 TIE STRENGTH: concept & impact Social support offered by strong ties improves mental health (Schaefer 1990) Banks with right mix of ties get better financial deals (Uzzi 1999) Weak ties benefits job-seekers (Granovetter 1974) vs. job seeker from lower socioeconomic backgrounds often benefits from strong ties (Granovetter 1983) Employees who weakly tie themselves beyond organization boundaries tend to receive better performance reviews and generate more creative ideas (Burt 2004) Weak ties act as a conduit for useful info, but they often use a few media vs. strong ties’ diversified communication channels (Haythornthwaite 1998, 2002)

4 TIE STRENGTH: dimensions AT WHAT POINT is a tie to be considered weak? … Do all four indicators count equally toward tie strength? — D. Krackhardt In theory, tie strength has at least seven dimensions – GRANOVETTER’S intensity, intimacy, duration & services – WELLMAN’S emotional support – LIN’S social distance – BURT’S structural Peter Marsden used survey data from three metropolitan areas to unpack predictors of tie strength (Marsden 1990) Marsden, P. V. and Campbell, K. E. 1990. Measuring Tie Strength. Social Forces, 63(2), 482–501.


6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS R1: The literature suggests seven dimensions of tie strength: – INTENSITY, INTIMACY, DURATION, RECIPROCAL SERVICES, STRUCTURAL, EMOTIONAL SUPPORT and SOCIAL DISTANCE. – As manifested in social media, can these dimensions predict tie strength? In what combination? R2: What are the limitations of a tie strength model based SOLELY on social media?

7 THE DATA: overview Facebook users: 35 university students & staff – Firefox ext. Greasemonkey to guide participants through a randomly selected subset of their Facebook friends Rated 62.4 friends (SD: 16.2); total 2,184 friends

8 DATA COLLECTION: methodology

9 PREDICTIVE VARIABLES Intensity (communications)

10 PREDICTIVE VARIABLES intimacy LIWC dictionary to perform content analysis (intimacy categories)

11 PREDICTIVE VARIABLES Structural Duration

12 PREDICTIVE VARIABLES reciprocal services emotional support (URLs) LIWC dictionary to perform content analysis (intimacy categories)

13 PREDICTIVE VARIABLES social distance

14 STATISTICAL METHODS For each friend I of user X: – si: tie-strength (bet. X~i) – Ri: predictive variables, Di: interactions – N(i): mutual friends’ (of X & i) structural scores Xi sisi j

15 THE MODEL: structure & performance

16 MOST PREDICTIVE by |beta|

17 THE MODEL: details 87.2% accuracy X2(1, N = 4368) = 700.9 p < 0.001

18 LIMITATIONS: high residuals Ah yes. This friend is an old ex. We haven't really spoken to each other in about 6 years, but we ended up friending each other on Facebook when I first joined. But he's still important to me. We were best friends for seven years before we dated. So I rated it where I did (I was actually even thinking of rating it higher) because I am optimistically hoping we’ll recover some of our “best friend”-ness after a while. Hasn't happened yet, though. error: ~0.5

19 LIMITATIONS: high residuals We were neighbors for a few years. "I babysat her child multiple times. She comes over for parties. I'm pissed off at her right now, but it's still 0.8. ";) Her little son, now 3, also has an account on Facebook.“ We usually communicate with each other on Facebook via her son's account. This is our “1 mutual friend.” error: ~0.5

20 IMPLICATIONS: for theory Social network analyses of large-scale phenomena (beyond links) Weights on dimensions & importance of structure (interactions among variables) Is there an upper bound? Do important things get left out?

21 IMPLICATIONS: for practice MODEL TIE STRENGTH TO… – prioritize activity updates. – broadcast especially novel information. – make better friend introductions. – build more informed privacy controls.

22 Summary A MODEL of tie strength SPECIFIC WEIGHTS on tie strength’s dimensions THE ROLE OF STRUCTURE in modulating tie strength

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