Strong ties between indi­vid­uals can actu­ally hinder the spread of infor­ma­tion through a net­work, a study has shown.

A team of data sci­en­tists at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boson led by Marton Karsai exam­ined more than 600 mil­lion time-​​stamped mobile phone calls between six mil­lion people over six months in an unnamed Euro­pean country. “Our results pro­vide the coun­ter­in­tu­itive evi­dence that strong ties may have a neg­a­tive role in the spreading of infor­ma­tion across net­works,” says the study.

The power of weak ties has been expounded since soci­ol­o­gist Mark Gra­novetter pub­lished a paper called “The Strength of Weak Ties” in 1973 — one of the most cited papers in social net­work theory. This paper — which asked sev­eral hun­dred people how they got their jobs — stated that infor­ma­tion largely spreads through society between indi­vid­uals with weak con­nec­tions, instead of strong ties. The North­eastern team, how­ever, was keen to examine how infor­ma­tion spread when there were strong ties between individuals.

Read the article at Wired →