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The way scientists are analyzing statistical information gathered from social media is downright interesting – or a little intrusive, depending on how you look at it. After examining over one million Facebook profiles, Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell, and Lars Backstrom, a senior engineer at Facebook, found a distinct correlation between the amount of social connections a person has to their real life relationship status, as well as the strength of that relationship.

Instead of analyzing the amount of mutual friends two people share — which proved to be a fairly weak indicator of a relationship, the study measured the entire network of their friend circle. They call this technique dispersion – to calculate the magnitude of dispersion scientists looked at the overlap of a couple’s mutual friends. Co-workers, friends from college, and every other kind of social interaction were compiled to create a whole picture. According to the study, different levels of dispersion indicate varying stages of the relationship.

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