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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Facebook's Telescope on Human Behavior


Facebook research scientist Cameron Marlow

"The world of social science is transforming in light of an increase in the scale, granularity, and precision of social and behavioral data available online," says Facebook research scientist Cameron Marlow.

Credit: SFGate

One way to describe Facebook is as the most extensive data set on human social behavior that ever was. Every month more than 845 million people record and share traces of their daily lives, relationships, and online activity through their friend connections, messages, photos, check-ins, and clicks.

Cameron Marlow, the leader of a research group inside Facebook known as the Data Team, is tasked with the challenge of mathematically sifting through that data to look for patterns that explain the how and why of human social interactions. The people who do that, mostly Ph.D.s with research experience in computer and social sciences, have begun to publish their findings in the scientific community. Marlow says that the techniques they develop will transform scientific understanding of human behavior in the same way that astronomy transformed our understanding of the cosmos.

From Technology Review
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