The Influence of Indirect Ties on Social Network Dynamics
While direct social ties have been intensely studied in the context of computer-mediated social networks, indirect ties (e.g., friends of friends) have seen less attention. Yet in real life, we often rely on friends of our friends for recommendations (of doctors, schools, or babysitters), for introduction to a new job opportunity, and for many other occasional needs. In this work we empirically study the predictive power of indirect ties in two dynamic processes in social networks: new link formation and information diffusion. We not only verify the predictive power of indirect ties in new link formation but also show that this power is effective over longer social distance. Moreover, we show that the strength of an indirect tie positively correlates to the speed of forming a new link between the two end users of the indirect tie. Finally, we show that the strength of indirect ties can serve as a predictor for diffusion paths in social networks.