Find out how Facebook ranks your friends

There is much talk nowadays about the “wise crowds” that automagically emerge on social media to democratically decide what is news or what is knowledge. Some believe that the Internet creates a liberating “crowd edited” source of information. Some take the idea with a pinch of salt. Others decry the power of the social media “algorithms,” hidden formulas that decide who in the crowd is more deserving to be heard. For example, of your 000s of friends, only the posts of some keep coming back to your wall. What decides the order in which these posts are ranked? It is the weight of each friend in your network, which Facebook calculates on the basis of the strength of your interaction with the said person. The formula looks something like this:

Facebook Friend Formula (Edgerank)
Facebook Friend Formula (Edgerank)

The manner in which the terms of the formula are determined and even the operators between them change all the time, thus this is only an guide equation.

The more interaction (liking, commenting, tagging), the more likely to see that person’s posts appear on your wall. This numeric “closeness” quotient is not secret, yet it is not obviously posted by Facebook. It can be retrieved via Facebook’s API, which can be summoned by something as simple as a few lines of JavaScript embedded in a bookmark. Some bookmarklets have been created to visualize it. Typically, you would add the bookmark to your browser, open Facebook and they click the bookmark. The list of friends would appear on the screen. They would be listed in the order of their “closeness” to you… The smaller the number, the shorter the path between you and him/her, thus the “closer” you are…

Unfortunately, most bookmarklets are currently disabled due to a coding change made by Facebook. A pretty constantly updated resource can be found on Arjun Sreedharan’s blog. Unfortunately, it is itself out of synch with Facebook. Will keep looking for a working edition and will added to this page.



Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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