Measuring latent ties on Facebook: A novel approach to studying their prevalence and relationship with bridging social capital

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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  • Université Rennes 2

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number101176
Number of pages23
JournalTechnology in Society
Volume59
Early online date6 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The goal of the current study was to develop an empirical measure of latent ties on Facebook. We begin with a brief literature review of the influence of social media use on social capital and how latent ties fit into this literature. Latent ties are defined as ties with whom a connection is made possible by an affordance of a technological platform, such as the Facebook friend list, but with whom one never communicates. Latent ties have often been considered beneficial for garnering bridging social capital, but their prevalence and relationship to social capital has not been measured empirically. In the current study, we describe a novel approach for measuring latent ties by questionnaire. In a sample of 164 participants, we found that nearly 40% of Facebook users’ networks were latent ties. Furthermore, the percent of latent ties in users’ networks was negatively associated with bridging social capital. Finally, we examined the discriminant validity of the latent ties measure, and found that the percent of latent ties in one’s Facebook network and the total number of Facebook friends (network size) were unrelated. Results are discussed in regard to possible uses of this measure of latent ties in future research.