Personal Relations and Networks in Facebook

Hazim Aliosman, Fayad Habib, Katharina Kildau, Tobias Seibrich

About eight years ago Facebook, a student internet network of the Harvard-University, went online. It spread with incredible speed until the network reached over 900 million users around the world (Estimation March 2012). Roughly one quarter of the German population has an account on Facebook. Alone in the second half of 2011, 2.5 million German users joined this. Facebook created a new way of meeting people, managing relationships, creating networks and maintaining them. Accordingly the circumstances of influencing the social reality have changed. The Network research is increasingly interested in these changes.

The portal offers a huge data pool, which is based on self-distributed personal information, which based on various dimensions of the individual and social life.
By establishing a circle of friends, which are only one mouse click away, the Facebook user accumulates social capital, which consists of so called bonding ties and bridging ties (Putman 2000). The bridging capital describes the benefits to the individual, which are created by the number and structure of the weak ties. The bonding capital refers to the benefit, which is generated by strong ties.

The bridging and bonding social capital is the main interest of our research. Therefore we conduct a network study in cooperation with the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. This study will ask to which extend the intensity of Facebook usage is linked to the individual perception of bridging or rather bonding social capital. In addition, we are interested in the question what role does Facebook play for generating new social capital. How does the every-day use of Facebook change the social life and the networks of Students? Furthermore we would like to analyze a possible gap between the individual perception and the actual Facebook network. The data are collected via an online-survey and a tool for generating Facebook-relationships. (accessed on 25.03.2012) (accessed on 25.03.2012)