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Facebook knows when you are about to fall in love, and also when you are about to break up


All this from a drop-down menu?

Facebook knows a thing or two about love. At least it knows enough to know when you will be with someone for a long time and when a relationship might fail.  It also knows the point at which people start falling for others and all this is thanks to you.

Based on data obtained over years, Facebook says it’s easy to spot two people who are about to enter a relationship. They interact more and more on the site in the weeks before making their status official. Up until 12 days before the start of their relationship, couples share an average of 1.67 posts per day, according to the site. Facebook measured relationship starts and ends using changes in relationship statuses on the site, basically when profiles go from “Single” to “In a Relationship” or vice-versa for all US users who have started relationships between January 2008 and December 2011.

Soon after their relationship begins, users show a drop in interaction with their partners, presumably because of all the time they are spending offline, but this means one or the other or both t express more than average positive emotions toward their partner.  Facebook has been doing its bit to understand how people fall in love and relationships seeing as this is Valentine’s Day season. It has put up these findings in a series of blog posts and they are set to conitnue for at least the next three days.  The patterns detected by Facebook’s Data Science team are all possible thanks to the treasure trove of data users leave behind on Facebook.

“We have such a wide-ranging set of data, including on places there may not be data on otherwise,” Facebook data scientist Mike Develin said. adding that because Facebook knows a lot about people’s authentic identity, there are “almost no boundaries” to the kinds of questions the researchers can explore – about the structure of society, culture and how people interact.

Talking about breakups and their dynamics on Facebook, the company said that couples breaking up and getting back together soon after used the site to document these developments with great vigour. Develin says there was a couple that went in and out of a relationship 27 times in one year. People “very faithfully update Facebook at each twist and turn,” Develin wrote

Through one of the parameters used to study relationships, Bogdan State says there’s a seasonal trend in breakups. Facebook has seen “yearly peaks tending to occur during summer months (from May to July), and a small dip in break-ups during February for the first two full years (2009 and 2010), perhaps a result of Valentine’s Day!”  State wrote, before adding that there was a great acceleration of breakups during 2011. “Could it be that a rebounding US economy played a role?” he wondered.

Facebook analaysed 18 million anonymised posts exchanged by 462,000 couples to figure out how relationships progressed or soured. “For each timeline interaction, we counted the proportion of words expressing positive emotions (like ‘love,’ ‘nice,’ `happy,” etc.) minus the proportion of words expressing negative ones (like `hate,’ `hurt,’ `bad,’ etc.),” wrote Facebook data scientist Carlos Diuk in a blog post yesterday, titled The Formation Of Love.

Quite on expected lines, they found a hike in the amount of positive emotions expressed in the beginning of a relationship. While this may seem like common wisdom, the patterns found by Facebook can help us understand human interactions in more certain terms and could go a long way towards confirming long-held suspicions about humans behave in relationships, and also more helpfully quash some of the popular myths that go along with it.


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