Long-range connections that span large social networks are widely assumed to be weak, composed of sporadic and emotionally distant relationships. However, researchers historically have lacked the population-scale network data needed to verify the predicted weakness. Using data from 11 culturally diverse population-scale networks on four continents—encompassing 56 million Twitter users and 58 million mobile phone subscribers—we find that long-range ties are nearly as strong as social ties embedded within a small circle of friends. These high-bandwidth connections have important implications for diffusion and social integration.
The strength of long-range ties in population-scale social networks
Patrick S. Park, Joshua E. Blumenstock, Michael W. Macy
Science 21 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6421, pp. 1410-1413