A new demographic study released by the Facebook Data team reveals Facebook used to be dominated by white and Asian users, but the percentages of black and Hispanic users of the site are now approaching their percentages of the population in the general U.S. public.
Hear that? Facebook scientists have looked at the data and everything is OK now. For months, we’ve been calling on Facebook to open up user data in an appropriate way for the public at large to study.
It’s an invaluable bird’s eye view of the interactions between 350 million people around the world. There are probably a lot of social patterns of interaction between people that could be discovered in that data – some not pretty at all. For now, though, Facebook has analyzed the data in-house and given itself a cheery report card. More analysis appears to be forthcoming, so we’ll see what we’re told about what really goes on on Facebook – but that data ought to be made available for outside analysis.
In this case the data wasn’t anonymized; it was analyzed by two in-house staff members and two grad students from Cornell and Princeton. The group compared users’ last names on Facebook to U.S. Census data about the percentage of people with those last names who reported specific racial backgrounds. To read more of this story click here.