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Lifestyle & Budget

Facebook Knows When You’re Off the Market Before You Do

Facebook Logo on Computer Screen


While some couples may be chronic over-sharers on Facebook (FB), the social media giant says it can determine when users are about to change their relationship status from “Single” to “In a Relationship.”

Facebook Data Science, a research service, conducted research from 2010 through 2013 that reviewed messages, posts and visits to profiles among couples who declared an anniversary date and remained “single” 100 days prior and “in a relationship” 100 days after the anniversary.

The social networking giant said during the 100 days prior to a relationship starting, it observed a slow but steady increase in the number of timeline posts shared between the future couple. In a blog post, researcher said, “When the relationship starts ("day 0"), posts begin to decrease. We observe a peak of 1.67 posts per day 12 days before the relationship begins, and a lowest point of 1.53 posts per day 85 days into the relationship. Presumably, couples decide to spend more time together, courtship is off, and online interactions give way to more interactions in the physical world.”

Josh Constantine, social media reporter for Mashable, says that while many gripe about the lack of privacy online, few users will actually stop using a product or service over data mining.

“People talk a lot about who they care about privacy, but we ultimately won’t give up services over it,” Constantine says. “They may think its creepy how much Facebook knows about us, but the more data Facebook has, the more accurate those ads will be.”
Constantine is referring to the targeted ads on the social media site, which rely on data mining to reach the right audiences. In 2012, Constantine says Target (TGT) was using customer buying behavior to monitor pregnancy among its web shoppers.

“In some cases, they could determine if a woman was pregnant before their family even knew—if they were buying nutritional supplements or purses big enough to double as diaper bags,” he says. “And they would send them coupons in the mail, and found it was extremely good for revenue. The data companies collect on us is nothing new.”

And many companies, like Facebook, like to show off how interesting their data are, and try to recruit workers by showing they have a “fun data set to play with,” Constantine says.

“If Facebook knows you are about to get into a relationship with someone, you will see more of that person in your News Feed, and you will probably enjoy that even more,” he says.

Follow Kate Rogers on Twitter at @KateRogersNews

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