(New Scientist) Every group of friends has its leaders and its followers, those who are able to influence their peers and those who can’t resist. Now a study of over one million Facebook users reveals just who wields the most peer power, with men showing greater influence than women, while younger people are less influential than their older counterparts.
Knowing what makes someone influential could of course help advertisers spread their products through social media, but it can also be used more altruistically, such as promoting HIV testing in Africa. “Finding influential people is all the rage today,” says Sinan Aral, who studies the spread of information at New York University. But he says that many companies who claim to measure influence online are not approaching it in a scientific way.