AI and ML: How Facebook can forecast whether your relationship will last or fail

Aug 17, 2017

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Your Facebook data reveals who you’re currently dating, and can even predict whether you will break up within the next 60 days.

Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell University, and Lars Backstrom, a Big-Data engineer at Facebook, created an algorithm that identifies who you’re dating and whether you’re in danger of breaking up.

The ‘dispersion’ is the key

The main goal of the study the both scientists conducted was to find a way to identify important people within an individual’s network neighborhood.

The scientists had a thesis that they can recognize the romantic partner of a particular user from the network structure alone. At the same time, a number of friends is not a reliable indication. In fact, the key is the dispersion of social network friends.

The scientists analyzed the data of couples who shared their relationship status on Facebook.  They tried to find similarities in their friendship network that indicate the romantic partner.

Further, they spent 2 years monitoring the couples in order to involve into the research such data as changes in a circle of friends on Facebook and relationship status. The overall dataset used for the analysis contained 8.6 billion links.

The result of the study is an algorithm that recognizes the relationship status and the love partner from the user’s group of friends, even if the identity of the partner is hidden.

The crucial factor is the structure of the network neighborhood. Each Facebook user has one or more social circles (a set of people a user is linked to), e.g., university friends, co-workers, etc.

Notable, that the user’s partner is very likely connected to the neighbors of a network on Facebook. Vice versa, the user is quite likely linked to the partner’s Facebook friends.

However, there is usually no or just a few friendship connections between the networks of a couple.  The couple represents the only visible link.

Important insights

A long-term monitoring of the couples found out an interesting pattern. The relationship of users who are not linked to his/her circle of friends on Facebook is very likely to fail within the next 2 months.

It can be explained in the following way: a network consisting of mutual friends grows during the relationship. If this does not happen, it can be a sign that the relationship isn’t working.

Facebook uses the automated data analysis to provide content and services that might be relevant for a user.

For example, when Facebook identifies your romantic partner/spouse, you view his or her postings in the timeline more often. Besides, the user has a higher priority and, thus, appears at the top of the chat.  It is also perfectly suitable for targeted ads: a user who is expected to become a single soon will be very likely interested in dating services.

References: ‘Romantic Partnerships and the Dispersion of Social Ties: A Network Analysis of Relationship Status on Facebook’

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