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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    High Tech Realm

    Who knew that social networks aren’t being used for networking? Sites like MySpace and Facebook have long been hailed as great ways to stay connected, however, an article from “The Economist” points out that most social networking users often connect (leaving comments on photos, status updates, etc.) with only an average of seven friends.

    No, that was not a typo. I did type seven, and that figure is geared towards any social networking user, including the “elites” — the users with hundreds or thousands of “friends.”

    The article mentions “the Dunbar number,” which comes from a theory that the maximum number of people in a stable network is approximately 150 persons. Taking that number one step further, the average Facebook user has about 120 friends. Of these 120, the user only often connects with an average of seven. For users with 500 friends, interactions occur with about seventeen people.

    Is this news? Not really. When I first got a MySpace in 2004, I remember seeing some of my (actual) friends with over 1,000 people in their networks (my network peaked at around 112 people). There also were the numerous reports in the news about child predators, and there was also the MSNBC show “To Catch a Predator.”

    Really, this isn’t surprising at all. Social networks are geared towards the younger generation where everyone wants to be cool. For some unknown reason, having a trillion friends on a social network is a status symbol.

    While the concept isn’t abstract, it’s interesting to get precise figures as to how social networks are being used. Really, everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame. Maybe that’s the reason it’s cool to have a trillion “friends” on social networks.

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