Placebook? Hang-outs could predict new online friends

Thu Aug 4, 2011 10:15am EDT
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Alice Baghdjian

LONDON (Reuters) - A method of predicting which individuals may become friends on social networking sites based on the places they visit out in the real world has been developed by researchers at Cambridge University in Britain.

The new approach to "friend suggestions" looks at the usual haunts of individuals to determine which users may have connections with one another.

This, combined with the "friend-of-a-friend" method, currently favored by social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, can increase the efficacy of the prediction system, say researchers.

"We wanted to investigate the properties of places that encourage connections between visitors and how this could be incorporated into a system that predicts friends," Salvatore Scellato, one of the researchers, told Reuters.

The team analyzed the creation of social connections on Gowalla, a location-based social networking site that allows users to share information about the places they visit.

"We monitored the behavior of people going to places and the connections they made. We found that lots of people who go to the same places end up adding each other as friends, accounting for around 30 percent of new social links," Scellato said.

Meeting places are given incremental value based on how likely they are to foster connections and interaction between people, therefore offices, gyms and schools carry more weight than football stadiums or airports.

The weighting was determined according to the number people who visit the place, and the regularity of those visits -- a theory Scellato describes as "place entropy."   Continued...

 
<p>A page from the Facebook website is seen in Singapore May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Tan Shung Sin</p>