Facebook Friendship Map Visualizes Connections Around The World
| Catharine Smith
Paul Butler, an internwith the Facebook data infrastructure engineering team, has created a gorgeous map of the world that illustrates thehuman connections on Facebook and the distances those relationships span.
"I was interested in seeing how geography andpolitical borders affected where people lived relative to their friends,"
wrote in a Facebook post accompanying themap. "I wanted a visualization that would show which cities had a lot offriendships between them." Butler
did not set out to create a map of theworld, per say, although something distinctly map-like indeed materialized as aresult of his work. Butler
Using available Facebook data,
examined a sampleof 10 million friendships, plotted the location of each person along latitudeand longitude lines and drew a line to connect each pair of friends. The morefriendships that existed between the same pair of cities, the brighter the lineconnecting them. As Butler worked, he noticed a map emerging from the data. Butler
Not only were continents visible, certaininternational borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, wasknowing that the lines didn't represent coasts or rivers or political borders,but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made whiletravelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by thevarious forces of life.
Take a look at
's map (below), and notice the darkareas on the map that represent where Facebook use is less prevalent. Then,check out NASA's composite photograph of the earth at night (here) and note the striking similarity betweenthe two images. Butler