| Gabriel |
Noah pointed out to me that some of Eszter’s work got a plug in the NYT. In her UIC freshmen survey, she found that Hispanics were still mostly on MySpace but others had mostly moved to Facebook. The argument for this differential shift by race is that these kinds of things benefit tremendously from network externalities and since underlying social networks are segregated, the social network websites come to reflect this.
Although the NYT article mention “white flight,” mostly in the context of discussing another researcher, this characterization doesn’t seem exactly right to me both empirically and theoretically. Eszter’s work shows that blacks have mostly moved to Facebook but in most types of interaction (residential segregation, marriage, etc) Anglo whites are more likely to associate with Hispanics than with blacks. Likewise in classic white flight models, whites are fleeing the presence of blacks but what seems to be going on here is that whites are drawn by other whites (or more specifically, by their friends, who are mostly white). Unlike housing, where you know who your neighbors are, on a social networking site you only associate with the people you choose. In other words, it’s a pull of being drawn by your friends, not a push of avoiding people you look down upon. It’s interesting to contrast the types of differences (I hesitate to use the word “segregation”) that can result entirely from the pull of homophily rather than the push of heteroantipathy (is that a word?).