Facebook friends influence app choices

Posted on July 8, 2014


New research suggests that users of Facebook are downloading the same apps as each other due to the posts they read on the social platform.

The study concludes that users displayed copycat behaviour and chose to download the same apps and services as their friends. Their decisions were based on recent reviews, notifications and updates posted on news feeds by people they know, rather than through a series of best-seller charts, some of which are suggested by the network itself.

A team of researchers came to these conclusions through the use of a mathematical model, which incorporated figures from the number apps users installed in their Facebook profiles. The study – which can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal – is one of many across a number of fields suggesting that copycat behaviour is a common trait in humans, who are influenced by others’ actions over a short time period.

A partnership formed across universities Oxford, Harvard and Limerick developed this mathematical model to analyse data collected from a 2010 study, which recorded 100 million app installations through Facebook over a period of two months.

Discussing the results, James Gleeson, a professor from Limerick University, has said:

“This study reveals how we can explore different scenarios using mathematical models to disentangle what drives people to behave the way they do.”

These findings are also highlighted by research conducted by the social network itself, whose recent controversial psychological experiment discovered that emotions can be influenced by what users read on their timelines.

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