A new study claims that a Facebook algorithm can predict who users are dating and if that relationship is in trouble.
The study of 1.3 million Facebook users, which was created by a Cornell computer scientist and a Facebook engineer, says that by using an algorithm based on "dispersion," or how connected people are between sets of friends, can correctly identify those in relationships and those who are in danger of breaking up, according to the New York Times.
Dispersion isn't the same as embeddedness, which means sharing a lot of mutual friends, but how certain people connect each other to different social groups, according to The Verge. The algorithm spots a spouse because that person is likely introduced to a number of his or her partner's college friends but won't have any other connections between them. “A spouse or romantic partner is a bridge between a person’s different social worlds,”Jon Kleinberg, a Cornell University computer scientist and author of the study, told the Times.
A high dispersion seems to indicate a longer and often healthier relationship. If the algorithm couldn't figure out if a couple was dating, the study also seemed to indicate the couple had a 50 percent chance of breaking up within two months.
The study was created with Facebook's blessing, so we have to see that it's benefiting the social network to create this kind of information. Perhaps Facebook is looking for validation as a source for scientific study rather than as a social network selling off its users' information to advertisers.