Using Facebook to graph out when couples break up

Posted on November 8, 2010


Now this is interesting stuff to those of us that tuck away useless pieces of data and information. But it is kind of interesting to note these types of trends. Once you get 2 points on a data line, you have a trend and this is just one of many such tidbits that you could glean from social network data. who knows what you can discern in the future as social interaction via the Internet grows over the years?

(NYT) David McCandless, a London-based author, writer and designer, is constantly playing with data sets available online and translating heaps of code into well-designed visual stories.

Some of Mr. McCandless’s notable projects include visualizing the billions of dollars spent by people and governments around the world and visually explaining the different views of United States politicians, divided by their political predilection.

Working with Lee Byron, an information interaction designer at Facebook, Mr. McCandless recently chronicled another interesting data set: when couples break up.

The two designers answered this question by scanning over 10,000 Facebook status updates over a yearlong period and then plotting them on an annual graph.

In a recent TED Talk discussing the project, Mr. McCandless explained that most breakups occur three times in the year — in the weeks leading up to spring breaks, right before the start of the summer holidays and a couple of weeks before Christmas.

His research also found that people tend to break up with their significant others on Mondays, presumably after a weekend grapple.

The lowest day of the year for breakups is Christmas.

For researchers, the flood of data flowing through these social networks can offer treasure troves of information that in the past would have been nearly impossible to find. Facebook says on its Web site that “people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.”