Facebook intern maps out friendships around the world


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Facebook clearly has some above-average interns, including one who mapped 10 million pairs of friends on the social network and watched as the webs of relationships formed a detailed map of the world.

Paul Butler, an intern with the data infrastructure engineering team, created links between a random sample of friends. As he tweaked the design, he began to see continents and even individual countries emerge from the blob of lines.


The eastern half of the U.S. and most of Europe feature dense patchworks of friends, while large swaths of Africa, China and South America are sparsely lined.

Commenters on Butler’s detailed blog post on the project are now asking for maps of Facebook users’ genders, suggesting that similar maps be used for migration research and comparing the image to international flight maps.


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-- Tiffany Hsu