For some time now, Facebook has been saddled with the unfortunate sobriquet of Echo Chamber. As anyone who’s ever tried knows all too well, ditching an unwanted nickname is more than a little complicated (read: Difficult). But, since the company behind your online life record has the motivation, human resources, and economic means to carry out data studies that can, ahem, empirically disprove the basis on which such an inglorious moniker was erected, Facebook has done just that.
The Facebook Data Team, which harking back to Facebook’s origins in the realm of Ivy League scholarship carries out academic-style research studies, has just cranked out another pointy-headed paper. Eytan Bakshy, a recent Ph.D. from the University of Michigan’s School of Information helmed the study that looked at how previously unknown information is passed along among Facebook friends. His research underscores the importance of the inordinate amount of weak social ties Facebookers accumulate the longer they remain on the network. According to the paper published by Bakshy and his Facebook team, those weak ties do a lot of the heavy lifting related to the introduction of new information to users, thereby giving a good shaking to the Echo Chamber theory, which postulates that we only read/think/opine like our closest Facebook friends.
More details about the study can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-data-team/rethinking-information-diversity-in-networks/10150503499618859