#OpenScience Social Networks: Facebook and Google+

Continuing to look at figshare today.

Facebook has some limited data available concerning users.

It is not possible to see “who likes figshare” on Facebook because that information is private, unlike twitter, which allows any user to view the “followers” and “friends” of a twitter user.

The limited data that is available is published at:


As of October 4, 2013, the key characteristics are:

162 people talking about this


Most popular week: March 31, 2013

Most popular city: Lisboa, Portugal

Most popular age group: 25 – 34 years old

For “Portugal” this is about “where the most people talking about this are from” and I will wager that is related to a recent conference in Lisbon September 6 concerning “Cyber-infrastructure and Metadata Protocols: CAMP-4-Data Workshop (A Dublin Core-Science and Metadata (DC-SACM) Community/Research Data Alliance (RDA) Workshop).


The data appears to be value from September 2 to October 1 2013.

I feel like Facebook is a dead end for analysis of the characteristics of users, because there is very little ability to gain access to those characteristics as a third party.

The most challenging sphere seems to be Google Plus.

Which as pointed out in an earlier post, has a “following” of nearly half a million people (485, 276)

I searched Google for “Google+ Network Graph”

I found this page:


The page recommends that I “Try the Google Plus Visualizer to see the Network Graph in action on your social network.”

However this is a string visualizer so I can’t say I”m really interested in it.

For it to be useful, Figshare probably needs to be in my G+ network.

I’ll run it without adding them, then run it again after adding it.

This may be the only way to get information out of the G+ Fiigshare presence.

I took a screen capture to demonstrate the way followers are visible.

Image of interface within Google Plus social network.
View of figshare “circles” on Google Plus.

At first glance, there appear to be a large number of “foreign” names (at least, foreign from my perspective in Knoxville, Tennessee). That might account for why the Google+ presence has such a large number of people who “have figshare in circles” which for convenience’s sake I believe I’ll just call them “followers.” Followers may be a misnomer as I simply do not understand how someone arrives at a conclusion to “add figshare to their circles” and if that can be automated.  It is difficult to believe that all of the individuals “following” figshare on Google+ are actually interested in open data and open science.

I tried to “view source” to see if I could somehow extract follower data from plus – took a unique follower, “Usman ali” from “Faisalabad” and tried to find “faisalabad” in the code. Unsuccessful.

8 users are on the “splash page” and their names are visible in the source.

Might be useful to understand the concept of circles by looking at my own Google+ social network home page.

I have “37 people” in my circles – that’s people I placed in circles of my own design.

57 people have ME in circles – assuming they added me to some kind of categorization scheme on their own.

I know most of them, but there are maybe 6 of the 57  I really do not know at all – about 10 percent of the people who have placed me in a circle I do not know. It would be interesting to know if that translates across google plus pages for individuals or organizations.  If we allow that there is some truth to the notion that 10% of followers have no real interest in the person or entity that is being followed, then for entities with a large following like figshare, at around 48,500 of the 485,000 followers might not actually have any relationship to figshare.

I might be mistaken about accessing the content – “Ortega” is visible in my source.  I may have clicked the wrong window to view the source.

Tried it again but seems to be the same result.

Maybe with another browser?  Using Safari at the moment.

The only other browser I have is Firefox, not optimistic as they are both Mozilla browsers.

No difference.  Might be worth trying chrome but I want to try something else.

The link is called “485,276 people” Let’s see if that goes anywhere.

“Have them in circles” does appear, along with “484,276 people”

It is a button.

<div>Have them in circles</div><div><span role=”button” tabindex=”0″>485,276 people</span></div>

This is all I can really see. I don’t see that there is anything useful there.

I think the best thing will be to try the visualizer. (After checking, it does not work, at least on Safari on my mac).

Another option might be to try and use evernote to save the whole page.

A lot of this may be moot anyway as I am unsure of who among these “followers” actually even uses figshare.

So I’ve followed this link:


Trying it loaded some basic text about .py.  Not sure I’m supposed to see that.

I will need to look at this on the windows computer in my office.

It would also be worth doing a more intensive search for something like “Google Plus Explorer” or other tool for investigating the reach of a social network.  I am disappointed to find how difficult it is to explore the relationships and user communities on both Facebook and Google Plus, at least from any automated perspective.

There may be a user community for open science on linkedIn.  That’s another social network worth exploring.




About Tanner Jessel

I am a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE and pursuing a Masters in Information Sciences with an Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Computational Science. I assist scholarly research efforts supporting the Sociocultural, Usability and Assessment, and Member Nodes working groups within DataONE. I am based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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