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Information Cascades in Facebook RSVPs

We learned in class the concept of information cascade and the idea of the majority. We learned this in relation to the restaurant example where a person has to choose between a restaurant he/she found online or the restaurant with many people already in it. There are definite differences between the two meaning that there could be information based reasons or direct benefit reasons. This has been translated to the concept of a Facebook event.

When we create an event we hope to get an idea about the number of people who are going to attend. Facebook does this for us by allowing people to RSVP via the three options of: going, not going, or maybe. And because it becomes visible to others subscribed for the event then they can see who is going and who is not going. The article relates this to the analogy of a party. So if you see that nobody is going on Facebook then you might personally also choose to not go either. This could be based on a direct benefit reason. For example, a few people going mean that it is hard for you to meet other people, a goal that you had. Whereas if you see another party with many people already going then you might choose to go to that instead because it is easy to meet people in that one. It could also be an information based reason meaning the crowd of people not going might know something that you do not know. Such as the previous party the host threw wasn’t good and it is unlikely that this one will be good too.

Whichever reason that it does become, both have been influenced by the prevalence of others in the mix. Recently Facebook has decided to replace the maybe button with the interested button allowing users to see if people are willing to attend the party at all without having to commit to the party itself. This allows hosts to accordingly plan and will hope to change the way that people on Facebook view events and parties. Overall, Facebook is clearly a device that catalyzes information cascades across groups of people and is a real world example of the concept learned in class.


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