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Why most Facebook users get more than they give [REPORT]

Editor’s Note: The following is a new report released by Pew Internet & American Research Project. View the report, or download it here.

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Most Facebook users receive more from their Facebook friends than they give, according to a new study that for the first time combines server logs of Facebook activity with survey data to explore the structure of Facebook friendship networks and measures of social well-being.

These data were then matched with survey responses. And the new findings show that over a one-month period:

  • 40% of Facebook users in our sample made a friend request, but 63% received at least one request
  • Users in our sample pressed the like button next to friends’ content an average of 14 times, but had their content “liked” an average of 20 times
  • Users sent 9 personal messages, but received 12
  • 12% of users tagged a friend in a photo, but 35% were themselves tagged in a photo

“The explanation for this pattern is fascinating for a couple of reasons,” noted Prof. Keith Hampton, the lead author of the Pew Internet report, Why most Facebook users get more than they give. “First, it turns out there are segments of Facebook power users who contribute much more content than the typical user. Most Facebook users are moderately active over a one-month time period, so highly active power users skew the average. Second, these power users constitute about 20%-30% of Facebook users, but the striking thing is that there are different power users depending on the activity in question. One group of power users dominates friending activity. Another dominates ‘liking’ activity. And yet another dominates photo tagging.”

About the Survey

Some of this report is based on the findings of a national survey on Americans’ use of the internet and computer logs of how people use Facebook as provided by Facebook, Inc.

Facebook logs data: To obtain computer logs of Facebook usage, at the end of our survey participants were asked if they would volunteer to allow Facebook to share computer logs of their use of the Facebook service. Participants who agreed volunteered their email address to be matched with Facebook computer logs. A total of 269 survey respondents gave permission for Facebook to provide data on their use of the service. This represents 12% of those who agreed to participate in the national survey. In some cases, where noted in our analysis, Facebook was not able to generate specific measures for all participants and the number of cases may be lower.

Survey methodology: The survey results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from October 20 to November 28, 2010, among a sample of 2,255 adults, age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English.  A combination of landline and cellular random digit dial (RDD) samples was used to represent all adults in the continental United States who have access to either a landline or cellular telephone. Both samples were provided by Survey Sampling International, LLC (SSI) according to PSRAI specifications.  Numbers for the landline sample were selected with probabilities in proportion to their share of listed telephone households from active blocks (area code + exchange + two-digit block number) that contained three or more residential directory listings. The cellular sample was not list-assisted, but was drawn through a systematic sampling from dedicated wireless 100-blocks and shared service 100-blocks with no directory-listed landline numbers. The final data also included callback interviews with respondents who had previously been interviewed for 2008 Personal Networks and Community survey. In total, 610 callback interviews were conducted – 499 from landline sample and 111 from cell sample.

For more information, please see the methodology section of this report.

SOURCE Pew Internet & American Life Project