Growth of the flickr social network
Online social networking sites like MySpace, Orkut, and Flickr are among the most popular sites on the Web and continue to experience dramatic growth in their user population. The popularity of these sites offers a unique opportunity to study the dynamics of social networks at scale. Having a proper understanding of how online social networks grow can provide insights into the network structure, allow predictions of future growth, and enable simulation of systems on networks of arbitrary size. However, to date, most empirical studies have focused on static network snapshots rather than growth dynamics. In this paper, we collect and examine detailed growth data from the Flickr online social network, focusing on the ways in which new links are formed. Our study makes two contributions. First, we collect detailed data covering three months of growth, encompassing 950,143 new users and over 9.7 million new links, and we make this data available to the research community. Second, we use a first-principles approach to investigate the link formation process. In short, we find that links tend to be created by users who already have many links, that users tend to respond to incoming links by creating links back to the source, and that users link to other users who are already close in the network.