Friends, Strangers, and the Value of Ego Networks for Recommendation
Keywords:social recommendation, ego network, locality
Two main approaches to using social network information in recommendation have emerged: augmenting collaborative filtering with social data and algorithms that use only ego-centric data. We compare the two approaches using movie and music data from Facebook, and hashtag data from Twitter. We find that recommendation algorithms based only on friends perform no worse than those based on the full network, even though they require much less data and computational resources. Further, our evidence suggests that locality of preference, or the non-random distribution of item preferences in a social network, is a driving force behind the value of incorporating social network information into recommender algorithms. When locality is high, as in Twitter data, simple k-nn recommenders do better based only on friends than they do if they draw from the entire network. These results help us understand when, and why, social network information is likely to support recommendation systems, and show that systems that see ego-centric slices of a complete network (such as websites that use Facebook logins) or have computational limitations (such as mobile devices) may profitably use ego-centric recommendation algorithms.