Social Network Analysis Visualization: A Facebook Case Study

Social Network Analysis Visualization: A Facebook Case Study

Mohana Shanmugam (Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN), Malaysia), Yusmadi Yah Jusoh (Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia), Rozi Nor Haizan Nor (Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia) and Marzanah A. Jabar (Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8353-2.ch015
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The social network surge has become a mainstream subject of academic study in a myriad of disciplines. This chapter posits the social network literature by highlighting the terminologies of social networks and details the types of tools and methodologies used in prior studies. The list is supplemented by identifying the research gaps for future research of interest to both academics and practitioners. Additionally, the case of Facebook is used to study the elements of a social network analysis. This chapter also highlights past validated models with regards to social networks which are deemed significant for online social network studies. Furthermore, this chapter seeks to enlighten our knowledge on social network analysis and tap into the social network capabilities.
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What Is Social Network Analysis?

A social network is a set of people or organization or other social entities connected by some form of relationships. Analysis of social network broadly elaborates visual and mathematical representation of that relationship. The World Wide Web can also be considered as a social network. A social network is a social structure between actors such as individuals and organizations. Broadly, these networks implicate the possibilities in which they are connected through various social familiarities spreading from casual acquaintances to proximal business associations. Recently, social networks such as Orkut, Ryze and Linkedin have had phenomenal growth and impact on web traffic. The majority of these networks are for personal and socialization purpose, however social network analysis leads to mapping, measuring and modeling the relationships and flow between people, groups, organization or between any living or non living entities. From modeling point of view, the nodes in the network are the people or community, whereas the link exhibits relationships and flow between the nodes (Al-Fayoumi, Soumya Banerjee, & Mahanti, 2009).

Social network analysis (SNA) is an interdisciplinary methodology developed mainly by sociologists and researchers in social psychology in the 1960s and 1970s. It was further developed in collaboration with mathematics, statistics, and computing that led to a rapid development of formal analyzing techniques which made it an attractive tool for other disciplines like economics, marketing or industrial engineering (Scott, 2000). SNA is based on an assumption of the importance of relationships among interacting units or nodes. These relations defined by linkages among units/nodes are a fundamental component of SNA (Scott, 2000).

Borgatti and Foster (2003) in their perceptive article “The Network Paradigm in Organizational Research” have shown that the exponential growth of the literature in social network research is part of a general shift, beginning in the second half of the 20th century, away from individualist, essentialist and atomistic explanations toward more relational, contextual and systemic understandings. There is definitely a crucial need for a review and classification of studies done in the area of network research in several disciplines like the web-based online social network.

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