Socio-Spatial Properties of Online Location-Based Social Networks

author: Salvatore Scellato, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge
published: Aug. 18, 2011,   recorded: July 2011,   views: 3693


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The spatial structure of large-scale online social networks has been largely unaccessible due to the lack of available and accurate data about people’s location. However, with the recent surging popularity of location-based social services, data about the geographic position of users have been available for the first time, together with their online social connections. In this work we present a comprehensive study of the spatial properties of the social networks arising among users of three main popular online location-based services. We observe robust universal features across them: while all networks exhibit about 40% of links below 100 km, we further discover strong heterogeneity across users, with different characteristic spatial lengths of interaction across both their social ties and social triads. We provide evidence that mechanisms akin to gravity models may influence how these social connections are created over space. Our results constitute the first largescale study to unravel the socio-spatial properties of online location-based social networks.

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