Big Data in Social Networks

big_data_social_networksIn the last decade, the world has become connected to an extent that today, people know the minute details of what everyone is doing around them. Be it their close ones, their friends or even their favorite celebrities; all thanks to Facebook and Twitter. But in the process of being connected, everyone is constantly contributing to one common entity, ‘Big Data’. Big data is the vast sets of information gathered by researchers at companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft from patterns of cellphone calls, text messages and Internet clicks by millions of users around the world. Companies often refuse to make such information public, sometimes for competitive reasons and sometimes to protect customers’ privacy.

The challenging part about big data is not the collection, but the management of the data. With the deceasing cost of storage (<$0.1 for 1 gigabytes), anyone can gather data. The tough part is however, analyzing the data and making sense of it. Data collected from social networks is highly unstructured and has to be cleaned before being used for any kind of analysis. After being cleaned, the big data can be used for various purposes ranging from making network graphs to study user activity, to helping big brands in knowing what the customer cares about. The worldwide average of time spent daily by a user on social media is two and a half hours, and information on their activity help social networks deliver personalized content, and help advertisers hyper-target users.

Business Insider’s Intelligence Report shows unique pieces of data each social network is collecting:
• Facebook’s interest/social graph: The world’s largest online community collects more data via its API than any other social network. Facebook’s “like” button is pressed 2.7 billion times every day across the web, revealing what people care about.
• Google+’s relevance graph: The number of “+1s” and other Google+ data are now a top factor in determining how a Web page ranks in Google search results.
• LinkedIn’s talent graph: At least 22% of LinkedIn users have first-degree connections between 500-999 on the social network, and 19% have between 301-499.This rich professional data is helping LinkedIn build a “talent graph.”
• Twitter’s news graph: At its peak late last year the social network was processing 143,199 tweets per second globally. This fire hose of tweets provide a real-time window into the news and information that people care about. Fifty-two percent of Twitter users in the U.S. consume news on the site (more than the percent who do so on Facebook), according to Pew.
• YouTube’s entertainment graph: What music, shows, and celebrities do we like? YouTube reaches more U.S. adults aged 18 to 34 than any single cable network, according to Nielsen. YouTube knows what they like to watch.

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