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Concept: Social network aggregation


Social interactions increasingly take place online. Friendships and other offline social ties have been repeatedly associated with human longevity, but online interactions might have different properties. Here, we reference 12 million social media profiles against California Department of Public Health vital records and use longitudinal statistical models to assess whether social media use is associated with longer life. The results show that receiving requests to connect as friends online is associated with reduced mortality but initiating friendships is not. Additionally, online behaviors that indicate face-to-face social activity (like posting photos) are associated with reduced mortality, but online-only behaviors (like sending messages) have a nonlinear relationship, where moderate use is associated with the lowest mortality. These results suggest that online social integration is linked to lower risk for a wide variety of critical health problems. Although this is an associational study, it may be an important step in understanding how, on a global scale, online social networks might be adapted to improve modern populations' social and physical health.

Concepts: Health care, Public health, Health, Epidemiology, Sociology, Population health, Health education, Social network aggregation


The large availability of user provided contents on online social media facilitates people aggregation around shared beliefs, interests, worldviews and narratives. In spite of the enthusiastic rhetoric about the so called collective intelligence unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories-e.g., chemtrails, reptilians or the Illuminati-are pervasive in online social networks (OSN). In this work we study, on a sample of 1.2 million of individuals, how information related to very distinct narratives-i.e. main stream scientific and conspiracy news-are consumed and shape communities on Facebook. Our results show that polarized communities emerge around distinct types of contents and usual consumers of conspiracy news result to be more focused and self-contained on their specific contents. To test potential biases induced by the continued exposure to unsubstantiated rumors on users' content selection, we conclude our analysis measuring how users respond to 4,709 troll information-i.e. parodistic and sarcastic imitation of conspiracy theories. We find that 77.92% of likes and 80.86% of comments are from users usually interacting with conspiracy stories.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Web 2.0, Social information processing, Social media, Social network aggregation, Facebook, Conspiracy theory


Patients are increasingly using online social networks (ie, social media) to connect with other patients and health care professionals-a trend called peer-to-peer health care. Because online social networks provide a means for health care professionals to communicate with patients, and for patients to communicate with each other, an opportunity exists to use social media as a modality to deliver behavioral interventions. Social media-delivered behavioral interventions have the potential to reduce the expense of behavioral interventions by eliminating visits, as well as increase our access to patients by becoming embedded in their social media feeds. Trials of online social network-delivered behavioral interventions have shown promise, but much is unknown about intervention development and methodology. In this paper, we discuss the process by which investigators can translate behavioral interventions for social media delivery. We present a model that describes the steps and decision points in this process, including the necessary training and reporting requirements. We also discuss issues pertinent to social media-delivered interventions, including cost, scalability, and privacy. Finally, we identify areas of research that are needed to optimize this emerging behavioral intervention modality.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Healthcare, Sociology, Illness, Intervention, Communication, Social network aggregation


Social network analysis provides a perspective and method for inquiring into the structures that comprise online groups and communities. Traces from interaction via social media provide the opportunity for understanding how a community is formed and maintained online.

Concepts: Sociology, Community building, Social network, Virtual community, Network theory, Network science, Complex network, Social network aggregation


Recent years have witnessed the tremendous growth of the online social media. In China, Weibo, a Twitter-like service, has attracted more than 500 million users in less than five years. Connected by online social ties, different users might share similar affective states. We find that the correlation of anger among users is significantly higher than that of joy. While the correlation of sadness is surprisingly low. Moreover, there is a stronger sentiment correlation between a pair of users if they share more interactions. And users with larger number of friends possess more significant sentiment correlation with their neighborhoods. Our findings could provide insights for modeling sentiment influence and propagation in online social networks.

Concepts: Sociology, Social media, Social network aggregation, Facebook


Online social networks present wide-reaching and flexible platforms through which to deliver health interventions to targeted populations. This study used a social marketing approach to explore teenage girls' perceptions of physical activity and the potential use of online social networks to receive a physical activity intervention.

Concepts: Social network service, Social network aggregation


Social network technologies have become part of health education and wider health promotion-either by design or happenstance. Social support, peer pressure, and information sharing in online communities may affect health behaviors. If there are positive and sustained effects, then social network technologies could increase the effectiveness and efficiency of many public health campaigns. Social media alone, however, may be insufficient to promote health. Furthermore, there may be unintended and potentially harmful consequences of inaccurate or misleading health information. Given these uncertainties, there is a need to understand and synthesize the evidence base for the use of online social networking as part of health promoting interventions to inform future research and practice.

Concepts: Social network, Virtual community, Social network service, Social network aggregation


Benford’s Law states that, in naturally occurring systems, the frequency of numbers' first digits is not evenly distributed. Numbers beginning with a 1 occur roughly 30% of the time, and are six times more common than numbers beginning with a 9. We show that Benford’s Law applies to social and behavioral features of users in online social networks. Using social data from five major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and LiveJournal), we show that the distribution of first significant digits of friend and follower counts for users in these systems follow Benford’s Law. The same is true for the number of posts users make. We extend this to egocentric networks, showing that friend counts among the people in an individual’s social network also follows the expected distribution. We discuss how this can be used to detect suspicious or fraudulent activity online and to validate datasets.

Concepts: Sociology, Networks, Network theory, Network science, Social network service, MySpace, Social network aggregation, Facebook


Online social networking sites (SNSs) have become a popular mode of communication among adolescents. However, little is known about the effects of social online activity on health behaviors. The authors examined the use of SNSs among friends and the degree to which SNS activities relate to face-to-face peer influences and adolescent risk behaviors.

Concepts: Sociology, Internet, Social network service, Online and offline, Social network aggregation


Few studies have used social networking sites to track temporal trends in health-related posts, particularly around weight loss. To examine the temporal relationship of Twitter messages about weight loss over 1 year (2012). Temporal trends in #weightloss mentions and #fitness, #diet, and #health tweets which also had the word “weight” in them were examined using three a priori time periods: (1) holidays: pre-winter holidays, holidays, and post-holidays; (2) Season: winter and summer; and (3) New Year’s: pre-New Year’s and post-New Year’s. Regarding #weightloss, there were 145 (95 % CI 79, 211) more posts/day during holidays and 143 (95 % CI 76, 209) more posts/day after holidays as compared to 480 pre-holiday posts/day; 232 (95 % CI 178, 286) more posts/day during the winter versus summer (441 posts/day); there was no difference in posts around New Year’s. Examining social networks for trends in health-related posts may aid in timing interventions when individuals are more likely to be discussing weight loss.

Concepts: Internet, Social network, Social network service, Twitter, Social network aggregation