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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


Social interaction and data integration in the digital society can affect the control that individuals have on their privacy. Social networking sites can access data from other services, including user contact lists where nonusers are listed too. Although most research on online privacy has focused on inference of personal information of users, this data integration poses the question of whether it is possible to predict personal information of nonusers. This article tests the shadow profile hypothesis, which postulates that the data given by the users of an online service predict personal information of nonusers. Using data from a disappeared social networking site, we perform a historical audit to evaluate whether personal data of nonusers could have been predicted with the personal data and contact lists shared by the users of the site. We analyze personal information of sexual orientation and relationship status, which follow regular mixing patterns in the social network. Going back in time over the growth of the network, we measure predictor performance as a function of network size and tendency of users to disclose their contact lists. This article presents robust evidence supporting the shadow profile hypothesis and reveals a multiplicative effect of network size and disclosure tendencies that accelerates the performance of predictors. These results call for new privacy paradigms that take into account the fact that individual privacy decisions do not happen in isolation and are mediated by the decisions of others.

Concepts: Prediction, Sociology, Internet, Social network, Social network service, Social network aggregation, Facebook


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


Political debate concerning moralized issues is increasingly common in online social networks. However, moral psychology has yet to incorporate the study of social networks to investigate processes by which some moral ideas spread more rapidly or broadly than others. Here, we show that the expression of moral emotion is key for the spread of moral and political ideas in online social networks, a process we call “moral contagion.” Using a large sample of social media communications about three polarizing moral/political issues (n = 563,312), we observed that the presence of moral-emotional words in messages increased their diffusion by a factor of 20% for each additional word. Furthermore, we found that moral contagion was bounded by group membership; moral-emotional language increased diffusion more strongly within liberal and conservative networks, and less between them. Our results highlight the importance of emotion in the social transmission of moral ideas and also demonstrate the utility of social network methods for studying morality. These findings offer insights into how people are exposed to moral and political ideas through social networks, thus expanding models of social influence and group polarization as people become increasingly immersed in social media networks.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Ethics, Morality, Social psychology, Network theory, Social media, 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