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July 26, 2013 | 7:28 AM conducted a study, "The Anatomy of Large Facebook Cascades," and found that only about 5% of uploaded photos are reshared. This is in part because many photos are of interest to a limited audience, e.g., just the users’ friends, or are restricted to that audience through privacy settings. However, the photos that are reshared at least once are reshared an average of 14.8 times, though some enjoy much wider popularity than others (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: The proportion of reshare activity comprised of photos with at least a given number of reshares. Inset: Cumulative distribution of cascade sizes.

When users post photos on Facebook, they have the option of allowing their friends, followers, or anyone at all to subsequently reshare the photo. A portion of the billions of photos posted to Facebook generates cascades of reshares, enabling many additional users to see, like, comment, and reshare the photos. In this paper we present characteristics of such cascades in aggregate, finding that a small fraction of photos account for a significant proportion of reshare activity and generate cascades of non-trivial size and depth. We also show that the true influence chains in such cascades can be much deeper than what is visible through direct attribution. Read the full report here.


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