Analyze Your Facebook Network Via Wolfram|Alpha, But Act Fast

Weekly distribution of my posting activity on Facebook.

Weekly distribution of my posting activity on Facebook.

Thanks to Tara Calishain’s ResearchBuzz blog, I learned about a Wolfram|Alpha tool that analyzes and visualizes your Facebook network and activity in minute detail. It provides a fascinating look at how you use Facebook and about your network of connections.

But there’s one problem: The tool will no longer function after the end of April. The WolframAlpha Blog recently announced that Facebook will be deprecating the API that Wolfram relied on to extract much of the information. If you want to do it, that means, you’d better do it soon.

Curious, I analyzed my own account. Wolfram|Alpha, as you may know, is a “computational knowledge engine.” It resembles a search engine, but actually it computes answers to queries based on a large collection of algorithms and curated data. I recently wrote here about its Lawyer’s Professional Assistant app.

Global locations of my Facebook friends.

Global locations of my Facebook friends.

There is no charge to use the Facebook tool but you will have to allow Wolfram to link to your Facebook account. If you are a paid “Pro” Wolfram subscriber, you will be able to download the data and graphics the tool generates.

So what does Wolfram tell you about your Facebook account? Here is just a partial list:

  • Your activity, including recent and historic views of your posting totals and frequency, even down to your frequency by time of day and day of week. It breaks down your posts by type (e.g. photos, links, videos or status updates) and tells you how many likes and comments you’ve received.
  • A word cloud of my Facebook activity.

    A word cloud of my Facebook activity.

    Word frequencies, showing the most common words that appear in your posts.

  • “Most” lists, such as your most liked post, most commented post, most liked photo, most commented photo, top commenters on your posts and top sharers of your posts.
  • Your friends’ cumulative data, such as their genders, relationship status, age ranges (mine range from 19 to 90), geographic locations, geographic extremes (such as northernmost friend and most distant friend) and most common friends’ names (David and Michael for me).
  • Your networks, including friend clusters, friends with the most friends of their own, top “social insiders,” top “social outsiders” and top “social connectors.”

Is there any value in all this? Besides its pure interest value, there is probably value to be gleaned from all this data. If you are using Facebook as a marketing tool, then this provides you with an overview of your network that shows both your own activity and your reach. If you are a Pro subscriber, you can turn on a feature that will track your Facebook activity on an ongoing basis and create historical analytics. However, with the API change at the end of the month, those analytics will be reduced in scope.

After the end of the month, you will still be able to generate an analysis of your own Facebook activity, according to the Wolfram blog, but you won’t be able to access your friends’ information unless they specifically authorize Wolfram’s Facebook app. That means that Wolfram will not have enough data to generate a meaningful network analysis.

If you’re curious about your own Facebook activity and would like an overview of your network, head over to Wolfram before the end of the month and give it a whirl.

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  • paul

    Has this already been discontinued? Once I grant WA access to my FB, it defaults to WA’s main page.

    • It is still working for me. I just ran it again. It takes a few moments to load.