We’ve written before about the privacy issues that big data will raise. As we all become more aware of how the data we leave in our wake on social networks can be used, we will start to take more control over what we share with whom online. The updated personal Facebook analytics tool launched today by Wolfram Alpha is a great tool to understand what the data you share can reveal.

The original Wolfram Alpha Facebook analytics launched in September 2012 created a set of statistical insights into what you shared – how many links or photos you posted, at what time of day and where you checked it. It also included a cluster analysis of your friends – showing who was connected to whom.

The new Facebook analytics report moves beyond simple mapping of friends to begin to map out how your social networks is composed. Who are the key connectors, and who are the potential gateways to others you might not yet know. In total, Wolfram Alpha has identified five different roles in a social network:

  • Social Insiders and Social Outsiders – two opposing groups, a Social Insider has lots of friends in common with you (such as a friend from university) whereas a Social Outsider has few friends in common (maybe somebody you met once on a holiday)
  • Social Gateways and Social Neighbours – two more opposing groups, a Social Gateway has lots of friends who are outside your network (such as the editor of an online news source) and a Social Neighbour has few friends outside your network
  • Social Connectors – the final group connects different parts of your network (so a university friend who you now also work with)

This analysis moves beyond grouping friends by reported facts about them (who you went to university with, who you live in the same town as etc) and starts to analyse how your network is composed.

This is exactly the kind of analysis that anybody who you give access to your Facebook data can gain – and indeed that any of your friends give access to depending on your own privacy settings. This kind of data is fascinating for us to look at, and is useful for many brands to understand and use.

Explore your Wolfram Alpha Facebook report