Have you ever wondered what 10 million friendships would look like on a world map? Well, a Facebook engineer has the answer for you. The map below was made by Paul Butler, an engineering intern at Facebook. In a blog post, he explains how he created this visualized representation of friendships. His quest began when he became curious as to whether country or physical location had a big impact on friendships. In other words, he wondered if people had a lot of friends who live far away from them, perhaps around the world. So he took a sample of 10 million friendship pairs from the Facebook database and made this image.
The results are fairly evident and we recommend you check it out in high resolution to fully understand what you’re looking at. This data was not graphed onto a map, by the way. Every lit up dot of land is the geo-location of a friend. The map formed itself by the sheer number of connections. The most lit areas–Europe and the United States–are bright because of the density of smaller range friendships inside them.
“After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw,” said Butler. “The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life…When I shared the image with others within Facebook, it resonated with many people. It’s not just a pretty picture, it’s a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders.”
As much as we dog Facebook here and there, this perfectly shows the great qualities of social networking. With only 10 million of the 500 million connections, we are able to build a map of the world solely from our own personal connections. Very cool.