Meta Collaborated With A Harvard Research Team To Map Out Friendships Across Economic Brackets Using Data From Facebook

Meta conducted research, utilizing data from the billions of friendships the platform has accrued over the years to gauge interactions between individuals of different economic backgrounds.

It’s been widely stated and factually agreed upon that an individual’s circumstances and their societal standing can vastly affect their life’s overall outcome. It’s the sort of thought process that explains higher crime rates in minorities or jobless groups; when a society refuses to treat you properly and refutes access to basic income, healthcare, and education, naturally things turn sideways. Then again, this is the exact sort of thought process that many individuals across the world (looking at you, U.S. Republicans) attempt to deny and argue against at any stage.

Meta is in an interesting position with Facebook being perhaps the most comprehensive databank of online human relationships to exist. This provides the corporation with perhaps the biggest sample population that a researcher could have ever asked for. However, Meta didn’t necessarily launch the idea of conducting such research; after all, what good is discussing social relations to a company that just sees individual accounts as opportunities for advertisement and data selling? The research itself was posed by a group of researchers, led by economist Raj Chetty, and Meta.

Raj Chetty and his team received not just a databank of active users across Facebook: they got access to approximately 21 billion Facebook friendships to jumpstart work. The Harvard Opportunity Insights entourage took the opportunity in stride and got to work mapping out relationships across different socio-economic brackets, attempting to make any solid correlations and conclusions. The first one that we’ll discuss is perhaps the most interesting to me. This publication by the group revealed that in areas with more friendships between different economic backgrounds, lower-income individuals were found more likely to climb up the economic ladder. However, further research also detailed just how unlikely such friendships were to form, as most individuals were either barred from forming such friendships or were reluctant to move outside of their economic bracket.

It’s fascinating to take such a close look at human interactions and map them out to see if our preconceived notions are accurate or not. Specifically, I feel that this research should go a long way in proving preconceived notions regarding individuals from poorer backgrounds wrong. People can always change and be better; it all depends on how much support the more privileged individuals in our lives are willing to show them.

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