Facebook Data Can Predict Breakups

Facebook has been a cause of divorce in some cases, partly because it allows married people to seek out extramarital affairs.  Some estimates say that one in every five divorces is caused by Facebook and other social media.  That might be too generous of an estimate for the effect of Facebook but Facebook may have something to say about relationships.  There might be a formula in the social network to predict breakups and maybe even divorce.

Initially, researchers from Facebook and Cornell University wanted to look at relationships on Facebook to see if they could guess significant others based on network structure.  Senior engineer at Facebook, Lars Backstrom and Jon Kleinberg a computer scientist from Cornell began with the premise, “given all the connections among a person’s friends, can you recognize his or her romantic partners from the network structure alone?”

They reviewed anonymous data from over one million members of Facebook.  These people had to be at least 20 years old, have between 50 and 2,000 friends, and also signify themselves as in a relationship.  Based on trends in that data, they were able to accurately predict a member’s significant other nearly 60 percent of the time based on a term they called “dispersion”.

The concept of dispersion is how connected each spouse’s friends are with each other.  As an example, if you met your spouse in college, it is likely that your friends are friends with your spouse’s friends.  This is a lower dispersion of your friend network.  If your score is higher it is because your friends are not friends with your spouse’s friends.

The research paper said that "we find that our dispersion measure has roughly twice the accuracy of embeddedness in identifying this partner from among the user's full set of friends.”  Embeddedness is how many friends a couple shares which is a simple measurement of a social network.  They also noticed that when they couldn’t predict the significant other that it was generally bad news.  Within a 60 day period the couple was ominously more likely to split.

Facebook might know about your relationships but only you can make a change.  If you are unhappy with your marriage, then consider filing for a divorce and regaining your happiness.  Contact an experienced divorce attorney in Hinsdale to discuss the process today.

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