Discussion papers

CPM-11-212 - 1 May 2011

An agent-based model of the development of friendship links within Facebook

Ali Abbas


This paper investigates how local preferences and social structural constraints might affect the development of the friendship network in Facebook. We do this by analysing a dataset of an American university, Caltech, and by building an agent-based simulation for comparison. Several different, but plausible, processes of friendship network development are proposed in which the structural information of the growing network and the student preferences are taken into account. ‘Network formation based on personal preference and social structure’ matches the data best, and is thus the preferred hypothesis for the dominant way that friends are added by students in Facebook.