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Research Directions in Social Network Websites

Frederic Stutzman, danah boyd, Scott Golder, Raquel Recuero and Alla Zollers

(Submission #48)


Social networking websites have played a key factor in the evolution of the “social web.” Hundreds of millions of individuals from all age-ranges have flocked to sites such as MySpace (, Facebook ( and Orkut ( to create an online representation of identity, to manage their social lives, and to establish deep social relationships with other users of the sites. To this extent, the promise of Web 2.0 is embodied in social networking websites. Social networks both implicitly and explicitly connect individuals, enabling the representation of a rich social identity embodied in a virtual presence.

In this panel, an exciting young group of researchers will present results of their ongoing work in the analysis of social networking websites. This panel will present a number of different research methods, as well as international perspectives on the analysis of social networks. danah boyd will present some of the key challenges she has faced in her multi-year, ongoing ethnographic analysis of social networking websites. Raquel Recuero will share results of her mixed-methods international work on Fotolog, a popular photo-based social networking site. Scott Golder and Fred Stutzman will present large-network analysis of social behavior in Facebook, the leading college-based social network. Finally, Alla Zollers will present a quantitative and content-analysis of activism in social networking sites, analyzing the information architecture of the sites and the role it plays in activism.

The research and the varying methods presented in this panel will present viewers with an exciting look at the many ways social network websites can be analyzed. These sites stand at the forefront of the social web, presenting myriad opportunities to future researchers.

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