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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34760. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034760. Epub 2012 Apr 16.

Composition and structure of a large online social network in The Netherlands.

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Department of Sociology/ICS, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Limitations in data collection have long been an obstacle in research on friendship networks. Most earlier studies use either a sample of ego-networks, or complete network data on a relatively small group (e.g., a single organization). The rise of online social networking services such as Friendster and Facebook, however, provides researchers with opportunities to study friendship networks on a much larger scale. This study uses complete network data from Hyves, a popular online social networking service in The Netherlands, comprising over eight million members and over 400 million online friendship relations. In the first study of its kind for The Netherlands, I examine the structure of this network in terms of the degree distribution, characteristic path length, clustering, and degree assortativity. Results indicate that this network shares features of other large complex networks, but also deviates in other respects. In addition, a comparison with other online social networks shows that these networks show remarkable similarities.

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