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Article

Effects of user behaviors on accumulation of social capital in an online social network

Plos One. 2020. Vol. 15. No. 4. P. 1-17.
Rykov Y., Koltsova O., Sinyavskaya Y.

The use of social network sites helps people to make and maintain social ties accumulating social capital, which is increasingly important for individual success. There is a wide variation in the amount and structure of online ties, and to some extent this variation is contingent on specific online user behaviors which are to date under-researched. In this work, we examine an entire city-bounded friendship network (N = 194,601) extracted from VK social network site to explore how specific online user behaviors are related to structural social capital in a network of geographically proximate ties. Social network analysis was used to evaluate individual social capital as a network asset, and multiple regression analysis–to determine and estimate the effects of online user behaviors on social capital. The analysis reveals that the graph is both clustered and highly centralized which suggests the presence of a hierarchical structure: a set of sub-communities united by city-level hubs. Against this background, membership in more online groups is positively associated with user’s brokerage in the location-bounded network. Additionally, the share of local friends, the number of received likes and the duration of SNS use are associated with social capital indicators. This contributes to the literature on the formation of online social capital, examined at the level of a large and geographically localized population.