A Review of Facebook Research in the Social Sciences

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This article deals with the rapidly growing body of research that has accompanied the meteoric rise of Facebook as social scientists assess the impact of Facebook on social life. The authors conducted a comprehensive literature search, identifying 412 relevant articles, which were sorted into 5 categories: descriptive analysis of users, motivations for using Facebook, identity presentation, the role of Facebook in social interactions, and privacy and information disclosure. The literature review serves as the foundation from which to assess current findings and offer recommendations to the field for future research on Facebook and online social networks more broadly.

This study will be of particular use to researchers interested in cracking Facebook for academic and data purposes. While researchers have recognized the utility of Facebook as a novel tool to observe behavior in a naturalistic setting, test hypotheses, and recruit participants, because Facebook is a relatively recent phenomenon, uncertainty still exists about the most effective ways to do Facebook research.

Robert E. Wilson, Samuel D. Gosling, Lindsay T. Graham

May 2012