A closer look at Facebook and its users

This week, Facebook finally filed for its initial public offering (IPO), as it gets set to launch its first public sale of stock later this year. Part of its submission revealed that the social network now has 845 million active users each month, 483 million of which check the site at least once a day.

A study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has revealed findings about Facebook’s users, and how they engage with the site, through a combination of survey responses and review of real user data, and some of these findings are shared here:

  • Facebook users make seven new friends a month on average.
  • 80% of friend requests are accepted.
  • Women make over three times more status updates than men.
  • 37% of shared content is liked by a friend.
  • 55% of users comment on a friend’s content at least once a month.
  • If you're among the majority of users, your friends will have more friends than you do.
  • The relationships of users’ friends with each other tend to be very sparse – it tends to be the case that the majority of your friends do not know each other. Just over 10% of the average user’s friends are friends with each other too.
  • Through friends, and friends of friends, alone (two degrees of separation), users can reach a mean average of around 150,000 other users.
  • 20-30% of Facebook users are “power users”, with over two fifths of these engaging frequently in one specific activity, such as ‘liking’ things, sharing or tagging photos, sending private messages or sending friend requests (most of us can probably identify at least one friend from memory who obsessively tags friends in photos or is constantly ‘liking’ everything, for example). Only 5% were power users across four or more of these activities.
  • Because power users create an ‘imbalance’ in activity: for the average user, it’s more common to be liked than to like others; more messages will be received than sent; and people will be tagged in photos more often than they tag others.
  • Users really don’t like the ‘poke’ button (which might explain why it was marginalised to a drop-down menu on the Facebook site last year). Just 6% of users poke others. But there are also ‘power pokers’, who send and receive pokes at least once a day.
  • Facebook users – particularly power users – are more trusting than other people.
  • Users with more friends and who are members of more Facebook Groups tend to be more politically engaged.
  • Those with a longer and higher standard of education tend to have a more diverse range of friends (both on Facebook and offline).
  • Facebook doesn’t seem to be losing steam – there’s no evidence at all of ‘Facebook fatigue’, even among its most long-term users.

Of course, these findings are indicative rather than conclusive, based on analysis in a single study, covering American Facebook users in a limited sample research group. It therefore stands to reason that they may not be completely accurate - compared with data sourced directly from Facebook itself, for example - but the findings above certainly make for interesting reading.

Image amended from an original by .net

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