Facebook analysis: User relationship changes noted by season

Posted Mar 23, 2012 by Leigh Goessl
This week Facebook's data analysts released some data regarding relationships which illuminate trends in when people enter or breakup in relationships.
It seems not only does the network track what you 'like' or what kinds of advertisements you might be inclined to click, but is also busy tabulating relationship data, taking a look at the different times in the week, month and year that people make relationship changes.
Tracking love connections
On March 21 Facebook published a post entitled, "The Right Time for Love: Tracking the Seasonality of Relationship Formation" that includes analysis at how relationships change with the seasons, right down to the days of the week.
Jackson Gorham and Andrew T. Fiore, the data scientists who pulled the information together, complete with graphs, examined Facebook data from 2010 and 2011. The duo noted how seasons and different times of the week align with people entering or ending relationships.
Facebook says right up front these numbers are not "exact," since people do not necessarily update their relationship status in a timely fashion, but findings are presented as, perhaps, a pretty good indicator of predicting relationship trends.
Facebook noted, "considering the relative levels of coupling and splitting up across days, months and seasons still helps us understand the temporal patterns of relationship change among people on Facebook."
So how did they do it?
"We started by tabulating the changes from a non-coupled relationship status, like "Single" or "Divorced," to a coupled status, like "In a relationship" or "Engaged," Facebook said in its post. "We compared that figure against the number of changes in the other direction, from coupled to non-coupled, to calculate the net percentage change. As an example, 4% more people entered into coupledom in December 2011 than left it, a net gain for romance."
Entering relationships
Facebook not only determined when people were entering relationships, the social network giant broke it down by age, month and even days of the week. Weekdays were more popular for new relationships entered, with "Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday the biggest days for new romance."
It seems Valentine's Day and Christmas are times when people tend to enter relationships. Facebook says on Valentine's Day there are 49 percent more new relationships than there are breakups, and the day after, 22 percent more. For Christmas 34 percent more people take the plunge into a relationship than breakup and Christmas eve shows 28 percent more.
Apr.1 is also a big day for new relationships, however these are, not surprisingly, probably jokes associated with April Fool's Day as the social network notes these relationships are short-lived; lots of 'breakups' occur on Apr. 2.
Facebook s data scientists took a look at age groups and days of the week people tended to enter or ...
Facebook's data scientists took a look at age groups and days of the week people tended to enter or end relationships
Saying adios
It appears the summer months are bad news for relationships, with most breakups occurring in the warmer months. Weekend days are also popular times for severing ties in a relationship. According to Facebook, most breakups for all age groups occurred leading up to the weekend. For the over-25 crowd, this peaked on Fri. and Sat., and the 25 and under group followed a similar pattern peaking at breakups on Thurs. and Fri.
Data, data and more data
Social networks are part of the daily routine of hundreds of millions of people, with Facebook garnering the most users at a quoted 845 million as of Dec. 2011. The amount of data the network is privy to is staggering.
These days Facebook plays a large role in many aspects of life, and the more information people share, the more this data will be likely used for one purpose or another. While some of the information creates societal interest in seeing patterns on how people think, bigger question some might ask is why is Facebook spending resources looking at it, and should you be concerned with sharing so much detail about your life? Social sharing is clearly already beyond the horizon, but what is the next phase?
Facebook data scientists performed an analysis of how relationship changes vary seasonally.
Facebook data scientists performed an analysis of how relationship changes vary seasonally.