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Social Connections: It’s Not Who You Know, But Where You Go



Researchers at Cambridge University in Britain are working on a social media friend prediction system that creates more meaningful connections between people online. I guess we can’t all be working on a cure for cancer and there’s probably more fame and fortune in developing a new kind of social media network so. . .

Their theory is that people often bond over a common love of the same location.

Researcher Salvatore Scellato told Reuters;

“We monitored the behavior of people going to places and the connections they made [on Gowalla]. We found that lots of people who go to the same places end up adding each other as friends, accounting for around 30 percent of new social links.”

To further develop the concept, they assigned values to places based on popularity and types of activity.  A football stadium, for example, has a higher value than a train station because people bond over football but not so much over commuting.

While close to what Foursquare and Gowalla are already doing, it actually feels more like GetGlue who matches people based on their TV, movie and music choices.

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Now take Facebook’s suggestion engine (which is so off the mark more often than it’s on) and add in locations and interests. From there, I’d get friend suggestions that include people who go to the movies every week and those who share my love of TV.  Those are people I’d be interested in hanging with, more so than a random friend of my sister’s (no offense, sis.)

It sounds simple, but it must be more difficult to administer or Facebook would be doing it already. Maybe once these researchers figure out the details, they can move on to something truly meaningful, like how to build a faux Facebook page for people you’re obligated to follow but really don’t want to.

  • http://www.socialmarketingdynamics.com/ Sydney @ Social Dynamics

    I guess that makes sense, that these people that are on the same places as you are are more likely close to your interests and likes. But at the same time, being in similar locations doesn’t equate to instant social media bffs.

  • http://BizSaves.com John

    This is definitely an interesting development. People that go to the same places as you probably have similar interests to you and there definitely people on facebook/twitter that your obligated to stay connected to even though there posts are not something you want to see or are relevant to you.