Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook

August 30, 2012
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Stephen Wolfram
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After I wrote about doing personal analytics with data I’ve collected about myself, many people asked how they could do similar things themselves.

Now of course most people haven’t been doing the kind of data collecting that I’ve been doing for the past couple of decades. But these days a lot of people do have a rich source of data about themselves: their Facebook histories.

And today I’m excited to announce that we’ve developed a first round of capabilities in Wolfram|Alpha to let anyone do personal analytics with Facebook data. Wolfram|Alpha knows about all kinds of knowledge domains; now it can know about you, and apply its powers of analysis to give you all sorts of personal analytics. And this is just the beginning; over the months to come, particularly as we see about how people use this, we’ll be adding more and more capabilities.

It’s pretty straightforward to get your personal analytics report: all you have to do is type “facebook report” into the standard Wolfram|Alpha website.

If you’re doing this for the first time, you’ll be prompted to authenticate the Wolfram Connection app in Facebook, and then sign in to Wolfram|Alpha (yes, it’s free). And as soon as you’ve done that, Wolfram|Alpha will immediately get to work generating a personal analytics report from the data it can get about you through Facebook.

Here’s the beginning of the report I get today when I do this:

Facebook report

Yes, it was my birthday yesterday. And yes, as my children are fond of pointing out, I’m getting quite ancient…

I have to admit that I’m not a very diligent user of Facebook (mostly because I have too many other things to do). But I’ve got lots of Facebook friends (most of whom, sadly, I don’t know in real life). And scrolling down in my Wolfram|Alpha personal analytics report, I see this:

Friends' hometowns

Quite a geographic distribution! 85 countries, it says. Nobody from Antarctica, though…

Here’s the age distribution, at least for people who give that data (I do wonder about those 100+ year olds…):

Friends' ages

But these kinds of things are just the beginning. When you type “facebook report”, Wolfram|Alpha generates a pretty seriously long report—almost a small book about you, with more than a dozen major chapters, broken into more than 60 sections, with all sorts of drill-downs, alternate views, etc.

Here’s today’s report for me—which would be a lot longer if I were a more diligent Facebook user:

Full Facebook report

Let’s talk about some of the details. I wish I could do this using my own Facebook data—but I’m just not enough of a Facebook user. So instead I’m going to use data from a few kind souls around our company who’ve agreed to let me share some of their personal analytics.

Close to the top of the report—at least for younger folk—there’s an immediate example of how Wolfram|Alpha’s computational knowledge is used. If it knows from Facebook when and where you were born, it can work out things like what the weather was like (down to the hour in most places—a good memory test for parents!):

More birthdate information

In the standard Wolfram|Alpha Facebook personal analytics report, one of the first major sections is about your general Facebook activity. Here are some results for someone who’s definitely a much more serious Facebook user than me:

Activity

There’s a peak in activity late last fall, when no doubt something was going on in this person’s life. Wolfram|Alpha shows the weekly distribution of all these updates:

Weekly distribution

One can see she does lots of photo posting on Sunday nights, at the end of the weekend. Then there’s a clear gap for sleep, and during standard business hours it’s primarily links and status updates…

What apps does she use? Here’s data on that. Why is there all that Baby Gaga on Tuesdays? I’m guessing that’s something automated.

Weekly app activity

So what’s in someone’s posts? Here’s another part of the standard report, now for a different person:

Post statistics

That’s a nice “most liked post”. Clearly this person (who happens to be the lead developer of the Wolfram|Alpha Facebook personal analytics system that I’m showing here) is pretty upbeat. Look at the word cloud from his posts:

Word cloud

Here’s someone else’s word cloud—notably with her children’s names ordered in size according to age:

Word cloud

You can also look at all sorts of analysis of check-ins, photos, responses to posts, and so on. You can find out which of your posts or photos are most liked, at what times, and by whom:

Most liked photo

A big part of the report Wolfram|Alpha generates is actually not about you, but about your friends.

Like here’s the gender distribution for one person’s friends:

Friends' genders

And here’s their relationship distribution… showing that, yes, as they get older, this person’s friends mostly tend to get progressively more “hitched”:

Friends' relationship statuses

It’s fun to see what names are common among your friends:

Most common friend names

And you can find out things like who you share the most friends with. (For me—with my rather uncurated friend collection—the results were pretty surprising: 2 of the top 5 were people I’d never heard of… though now of course I’m curious about them…)

Your whole network of friends can actually be shown and analyzed as a network. Here’s my network of friends (restricted to female friends, to reduce the number). I’m the big dot at the center. Each other dot represents a friend, arranged based on mutual friendships.

Friend network

It’s clearer if I take myself out of the picture, and just show how my friends are connected to each other:

Friend network

The size of each dot is proportional to the number of friends from my network that that person has. The network is laid out automatically by Wolfram|Alpha, and the colors represent different clusters of friends. It’s interesting to see who my “big connectors” are. If you roll over each dot, you’ll see who it is. The “connector” highlighted here happens to be a long-time former HR director at our company…

Different people seem to end up with very different-looking networks. Here are a few examples:

Multiple friend networks

Sometimes there’s a “biggest connector”—perhaps someone’s spouse. Sometimes there are lots of disjoint clusters (secret lives?). Sometimes—like for my complete friend network, shown in the bottom right—it’s just a big mess, indicating an uncurated collection of friends. And of course you can also use Wolfram|Alpha to do all kinds of fancy graph theory on your friend network—trying to learn for example what “cliques” (in the official graph-theoretic sense) you’re involved with…

OK, so let’s say you’ve found something interesting in your personal analytics report. What can you do with it? We recently introduced a feature called Clip ’n Share. Roll over an image, and a “share” icon comes up. Click it, and you can create a permanent web page that you can link to from Facebook or wherever.

Wolfram|Alpha Clip 'n Share

OK, so that’s some of what you can do with your Wolfram|Alpha personal analytics report. But you can actually get a report not just on yourself, but also (so long as they allow it) on your friends. Just enter “facebook friends” in Wolfram|Alpha to get a list of links to your friends, then follow a link to get the personal analytics report for that friend. (Sometimes you’ll see less than in your own report, because your friends don’t allow you as much access to their data.)

It’s quite fascinating—and sometimes revealing—looking at the personal analytics reports for oneself and one’s friends. I think I could spend ages doing it. And coming back at different times to see what’s changed.

The personal analytics system we’re releasing today is just the beginning. We’re looking forward to everyone’s feedback (use the feedback box at the bottom!)—and we’re planning to keep adding more and more features and capabilities. As I said in my original post about personal analytics, I’ve no doubt that one day pretty much everyone will routinely be doing all sorts of personal analytics on a mountain of data that they collect about themselves. But it’s exciting today to be able to start that off with Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook. I hope people have fun with it! And perhaps it will also inspire some young Facebook users to become data scientists…

43 Comments

i’ve been waiting for this, very cool!

what do you do with the data wolfram alpha analyzes? does it get stored anywhere? does wolfram keep any of the data or it’s analysis in anyway? does it use my facebook connect in any other way?

Posted by Jacob August 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm Reply

    Your information is only stored for one hour, so each time you return, we’ll run fresh analytics on your Facebook data. After one hour the data is deleted.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team August 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm Reply

I hope I am mistaken, but as it currently stand based on your privacy policy and ToS it seems to me that you’re allowed to use all data in any way you would like (as it is technically not input as described in the privacy policy), so it would be quite reasonable to update your privacy policy specifically referencing to this (I personally didn’t dare to use this tool without that).

Posted by David Mulder August 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm Reply

    It would be interesting to get a company on this one from the company.

    Posted by Konrad August 31, 2012 at 2:41 am Reply

Stephen, Yes, Mathematica and NKS are great and all; and WolframAlpha has hitherto been terrific, but this may well be your coolest achievement. Can’t wait until your server quiets down and I can try it out.

Posted by Seth J. Chandler August 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm Reply

This is incredible. It’s fascinating to visualize that much data about yourself.

Thank you for building this.

Posted by Tim August 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm Reply

Uhm, cool. If only it worked and didn’t time out on me. Wonder who’s problem it is: FaceBook or WolframAlpjha.. But I say it’s a #fail right at this moment…

Posted by HvdGoor August 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm Reply

    We are currently experiencing heavy traffic due to people creating their Wolfram IDs. We are working on making things faster.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team August 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm Reply

Do you have plans to make it so that you can analyze pages? I administrate a couple of pages for an organization that I work for, and it would be interesting to be able to look at the information for those in the same way that I can look at information for my personal profile.

Posted by Shane August 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm Reply

is this not working for anyone else? It flat out isn’t working for me. Very disappointing.

Posted by Zach August 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm Reply

Would be extremely cool if you also released something similar for Twitter.

Posted by James August 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm Reply

On one hand, I think this is fantastic and I would love to see something like this for websites like reddit and Google+. On the other hand, it scares me to know just how much can be determined about me just by my facebook profile.

Posted by David August 31, 2012 at 12:01 am Reply

Can you please please please make this app available for page owners!!!!
That would be sooooo awesome.

Posted by Soren Jensen August 31, 2012 at 1:59 am Reply

why not add the capability of gathering information from other social networks? For example I don’t have any of my professional connections on facebook, but I do on LinkedIn. I think the picture of a person that you get from facebook is not complete, if you don’t integrate this app with more serious professional soc. networks. In a way it would be nice and interesting to see who this person really is (facebook) and who he wants people believe he is (linkedin or other)…or viceversa…

Posted by Stefano August 31, 2012 at 4:21 am Reply

I’m curious exactly what “Top sharers” is measuring? It makes sense that my mom is at the top of that list, but a lot of the other people who appear are huge surprises to me.

Posted by Bob Aman August 31, 2012 at 7:54 am Reply

Can you do this for gmail?

Posted by Dan August 31, 2012 at 10:14 am Reply

Are you planning to extend the service to Facebook groups? I’m not active in the main timeline stream, but I do have loads of data in several thematic groups I would very much like to see analysed :)

Posted by Vak August 31, 2012 at 10:15 am Reply

Can you analyze the data of PAGE account associated with personal facebook account? Do I need to purchase the Pro version to access it?

Thx!

Posted by Monica August 31, 2012 at 10:47 am Reply

    This feature is only for personal Facebook accounts. We appreciate the feedback and will pass it on to the developers.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team August 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm Reply

Thank you for all your comments and questions regarding privacy and Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook.

We value the trust that our users put in us, and are committed to maintaining the highest standards of privacy protection.

In order to do analysis on your Facebook data, it is necessary to cache it temporarily on our servers. We acquire the data through the Wolfram Connection app using the Facebook API, respecting whatever privacy settings you have given to Facebook.

Our system is set up to cache your data on our servers for one hour, to allow you to perform queries efficiently. After one hour, our system is set up to delete your data.

We only request your data when you perform a query. While on our servers, your data is stored securely, and is only accessible to you, through queries you make to Wolfram|Alpha.

The results of these queries are private to you, unless you explicitly publish them, for example using our Clip ‘n Share mechanism.

You can review the complete Wolfram|Alpha Privacy Policy here: http://www.wolframalpha.com/privacypolicy.html.

If you have any further concerns, please email us at info@wolframalpha.com.

Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team August 31, 2012 at 12:49 pm Reply

its really great.

Posted by siva August 31, 2012 at 12:50 pm Reply

More, more things like this!

Posted by maxtrade August 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm Reply

That is so cool! Where can I get more information about the data visualization technique used to create the friend network graph? I’d love to be able to plot many many different variables and have Wolphram|Alpha suggest different “cluster” patterns that appear!

Posted by Mark September 1, 2012 at 2:01 am Reply

Great report! I second the suggestion of extending it to FB pages. Thanks

Posted by Alex September 1, 2012 at 10:00 am Reply

This would be awesome for any networking site like LinkedIn, and even for a Google profile that would include things like Gmail, Reader, Youtube, blah blah blah, very cool thing indeed, I don’t have a facebook so can’t use it but awesome innovation

Posted by Steven Sanderson September 1, 2012 at 10:25 am Reply

This is great (I love the deep analytics).

However, I think an analysis of my Twitter account would be much more interesting. When do we get the Twitter Analysis Tool? ; )

Posted by Jim Haughwout September 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm Reply

This tool makes gathering and data analysis fun. :)
Is there a summary report that you can see on selected post/photos you choose to know?
That would be really great!!!

Posted by Myke Chiang September 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm Reply

Impressive work ….
Thank you for building this.

Posted by Alex September 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm Reply

Very interesting…. Janice

Posted by Janice Moroney September 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm Reply

Woah this is nice.. It is actually more detailed than quite many social analytics analyzer. Looking forward for more social stuff from Wolfram :)

Posted by Majid September 4, 2012 at 12:53 am Reply

This facebook report is very helpfull for my social media campains.

Posted by Dirk September 4, 2012 at 2:41 am Reply

Thats really neat stuff!! Are you working on a LinkedIn report along the same lines as well?

Posted by vishwajit vyas September 4, 2012 at 3:36 am Reply

Dear all,
Congratulation for the project! It is amazing.

Please, I would like to know if it is possible to analyze my FAN PAGES using this tool?
Do you have any forecast to customize the tool to do it for FAN PAGES?

Thanks a lot,
Regards,

Posted by Marcos Mello September 6, 2012 at 9:41 am Reply

may I add my voice to those asking for similar analytics for Facebook Pages. I would happily upgrade to Pro if that were to be a feature.

Posted by artfulJohn September 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm Reply

Just the sort of tool we’d expect from WolframAlpha, simple to use and brilliant analysis.

I’d be very interested in seeing the tool developed so that charities can use it to analyse their facebook pages, given that many of them have larger than limited companies and have much more interesting interactions. Do keep us informed!

An analysis of the charity sector would help charities enormously, both as a benchmark and guide to newer charities.

Posted by Rod Larking September 15, 2012 at 6:30 am Reply

The analysis is fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the chart that depicts my friends and how they are clustered. I can imagine this type of analysis on a different social network like LinkedIN and the huge business value that I may derive from it. I can see myself using a tool like this one for business purposes such as prospecting clients…

Posted by Julio Hartstein September 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm Reply

Really interesting data, never cease to be surprised by you guys.

Posted by Andy McSherry December 2, 2012 at 7:58 am Reply

This would be awesome for any networking site like LinkedIn, and even for a Google profile that would include things like Gmail, Reader, Youtube, blah blah blah, very cool thing indeed, I don’t have a facebook so can’t use it but awesome innovation

Posted by Bolocan Ovidiu-Cristian December 13, 2012 at 6:50 am Reply

I have disjoint networks resulting from my military friends/colleagues, friends from when I was still in High School, and video game buddies. It is interesting to see everyone’s connections like this. I can’t wait to figure out how to punch in the LinkedIn data. Thanks!

Posted by Jason E December 24, 2012 at 8:57 am Reply

This is brilliant – I just love what you guys are doing, pushing back the frontiers of data… Your visualisations are fab.
nik

Posted by Nik Sargent January 22, 2013 at 11:41 am Reply

Great fun with a bit of statistics, but I miss the opportunity of extending history of recent activity, it’s only for the last few months now. I would have liked to see statistics concerning all my activity since creating the account.

Posted by Håkan Rohdin February 10, 2013 at 6:56 am Reply

[...] you may already know, Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook provides a word cloud of your most frequently used words on Facebook. We want to see your nerdiest [...]

Posted by Set the Curve with Wolfram|Alpha!—Wolfram|Alpha Blog August 12, 2013 at 7:34 am Reply

Brilliantly done.
All the thumbs up :)

Posted by Bruce Wayne November 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm Reply
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