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Strong and Weak Ties

Eric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios conducted research on tie strengths in social media. Their paper, “Predicting Tie Strength with Social Media,” discusses how they were able to determine how different relationships affect the user as well as the social media as whole. Glancing at the collection of data at high level, Gilbert and Karahalios brought users to a lab where and watched the users complete  a questionnaire that was embedded in their Facebook profile. The questionnaire consisted of several questions that tested the strength of each tie of a Facebook friend, such as: “How strong is your relationship with this person?,” “How would you feel asking this friend to loan you $100 or more?,” “How helpful would this person be if you were looking for a job?,” “How upset if unfriended?,” and “How important to bring friend?” From these questions researchers were able to determine the strength of the tie and how these connections impacted the user.

This research paper supports the concept of strong and weak ties within networks. This can be further explained to also support local bridges and bridges. For example, if you were searching for a job you would most likely find new information from a weak tie rather than a strong tie that is in your network. This is true because if you were to remove the connection between the weak tie there will no longer be a link, abandoning any new information that could be presented. Eric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios concluded that weak ties are attributed to job references and novel information, while strong ties are best for social support and mental health stability.




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September 2012