Online Social Networks and Location: The Dual Effect of Distance on Spread and Involvement
33 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2013 Last revised: 17 Sep 2013
Date Written: January 26, 2013
Online social networks (OSN) are major platforms of ICT-enabled communication, supporting place-independent social life; however, recent findings suggest that geographical location of users strongly affect network topography. Therefore, OSNs may be simultaneously related to locations and also unlocked from offline geographies. Our paper addresses this dual-faced phenomenon analysing location-specific impact on the spread of online communities and the average involvement in them. Findings on iWiW, a leading OSN in Hungary with more than 4 million users, suggest that user rate (proxy for spread) is positively associated with geographical proximity of Budapest, the single urban centre in the country. On the other hand, the average number of connections (proxy for involvement) is independent from geographical proximity of the capital and it is even higher in peripheral regions when controlling for other offline factors. We find that proximity favours offline spread of OSNs while involvement in these platforms is independent from distance.
Keywords: online social network, geography, settlement size, distance, spatial regression
JEL Classification: L86, R10, O18, O33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation