Facebook by the numbers

Now and again, I like to get a bit wonky with the data, just for giggles, and today I’m looking at my Facebook friends list to see just how far my connections go.

FB says I have 38 friends, but two of those accounts are inactivated.

Friends: 36

Of those 36, two are my dogs (shh, don’t tell FB).

Human FB Friends: 34

Of those 34, I can say with certainty that four of them never log in and therefore aren’t going to be counted in this little survey.

Active Human FB Friends: 30

One of these friends does not allow her friends to see her friends list, so she can’t be counted, either.

Active Human FB Friends with Visible Friends Lists: 29

Okay, whether it’s 36 or only 29, that’s not very many. There are two reasons for this: 1) many people I know, like, interact with in real life and would like to be friends with on FB are not, in fact, on FB; and 2) with only two exceptions (who had people I do actually know vouch for them), I don’t friend anybody on FB whom I have not met in real life. That thins the ranks of my potential FB friends considerably. I have my standards, and I hope never to utter the phrase “hit me up on Facebook” to anybody I’ve only just met. I see no reason to share my online social life with people I would not feel comfortable inviting into my house in real life. Nonetheless, I consider my FB social life to be both active and fulfilling, with much regular and enjoyable interaction between me and about a dozen people.

Where the data crunching part come in is that I was interested to know how many other people I’m connected to through this highly select group of 29 Active Human FB Friends with Visible Friends Lists.

Total FB Friends of My Friends: 9,590

Nearly 10,000 people could potentially see something I post just in my tiny little circle!

Some other data points:
  • Average Number of Friends: ~320
  • Lowest Number of Friends: 23
  • Highest Number of Friends: 1,153

Interestingly (to me), one family group of only seven people–three sisters and four of their six children–account for nearly 5,000 of those friends-of-friends (their per-person friend average is just over 700). They are a very socially adept clan. Imagine the reach of their circles of friends. It just spirals outward around the world at frightening velocity. The numbers don’t lie. So when you think about “privacy” in the context of FB, you have to realize that there simply is none.

To see a rather sobering graphical depiction of FB’s reach, check out http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/. Click on the graphic to watch FB’s default settings of who can see your personal data expand from year to year. It’s really quite chilling.

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The image at the top of this post is from http://kiwicommons.com/index.php?p=9612&tag=facebook-is-bringing-us-closer-together

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