Open Access Highly Accessed Regular article

A large-scale community structure analysis in Facebook

Emilio Ferrara

Author Affiliations

Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA

Department of Mathematics and Informatics, University of Messina, Messina, Italy

EPJ Data Science 2012, 1:9  doi:10.1140/epjds9

Published: 6 November 2012

Abstract

Understanding social dynamics that govern human phenomena, such as communications and social relationships is a major problem in current computational social sciences. In particular, given the unprecedented success of online social networks (OSNs), in this paper we are concerned with the analysis of aggregation patterns and social dynamics occurring among users of the largest OSN as the date: Facebook. In detail, we discuss the mesoscopic features of the community structure of this network, considering the perspective of the communities, which has not yet been studied on such a large scale. To this purpose, we acquired a sample of this network containing millions of users and their social relationships; then, we unveiled the communities representing the aggregation units among which users gather and interact; finally, we analyzed the statistical features of such a network of communities, discovering and characterizing some specific organization patterns followed by individuals interacting in online social networks, that emerge considering different sampling techniques and clustering methodologies. This study provides some clues of the tendency of individuals to establish social interactions in online social networks that eventually contribute to building a well-connected social structure, and opens space for further social studies.