How very timely that I discovered this article today about a group called Rapleaf, who purport to understand how people use the social web by following their “internet footprint.” As a quick aside: I was pretty disappointed after signing up for an account to see what info they had on me—it was hardly complete. A Google search for my name turns up more stuff about my activities and whereabouts on the web. Regardless, this group has somehow collected data from nearly 50 million users on 14 different “social networks” and made their data available publicly (sweet!). I immediately downloaded it to see what else I could learn.
Especially after my brief inquiry and blog post yesterday, it was interesting to see the top social network sites according to Rapleaf’s data. Now 90% this data is from US users, which might account for some of the numbers seeming so low. Facebook’s official statistics page reports 90 million active users, but Rapleaf only has data from about 6 million users. (Of course, this brings into question the validity of the rest of their data…but maybe their findings apply to US social network users.) According to their numbers, Facebook only makes it in the top 5 social network sites:
Rapleaf also provided data about the breakdown of gender and age across these sites, as well as stats on how many friends people have. This is particularly interesting right now as I’m about to run a study looking at how well correlated online social network size is to “real life” social connections. Rapleaf’s data show that a majority of people, across all networks surveyed, have between 2-25 friends. Is this expected? Maybe so, even though this isn’t the bracket that I fit in. 7 million have only 1 friend—these must be people who are relatively or completely inactive; or the spammers. The blip at 101-500 friends looks intriguing at first, but could be accounted for by its larger span (doesn’t seem quite fair to compare it to the brackets for 25-50 and 50-100. And yet, 6 million people still appear to have between 100-500 friends. I can’t help but wonder if these are folks whose networks online are semi-representative of their real life social connections? Hopefully my survey will shed some light on this, too.