If you were already one of those people who thought Facebook was way too into your business, prepare to totally freak out when you hear that it might be able to predict your love life, too.
In new study that analyzed 1.3 million Facebook users (at least 20 years old, with 50 to 2,000 friends, and who listed a spouse or relationship partner in their profile), researchers found a way to identify a user’s partner with fairly high accuracy and, more important, to predict whether or not the couple was likely to break up in the next two months.
The predictions were based on users’ networks of Facebook friends, but not in the way you might think. The total number of mutual friends wasn’t a major indicator of relationship strength. What matters is what they called dispersion: when a couple’s mutual friends aren’t well connected to one another but are only connected through the couple. Meaning couples with high dispersion don’t have all the same friends but have introduced each other to friends from all spheres of their lives.
For instance, you might have more friends in common with your college bestie, because you guys knew all the same people at your huge state university. But if your boyfriend is friends with a few of your college friends, a few of your work friends, a few of your family members, and your roommates, you have high dispersion. And couples who had a high dispersion were 50 percent less likely to be broken up in the next two-month period of the study.