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Working paper

Accumulating social capital in an online urban network: The effects of user behaviors

Social capital is often accumulated not only in ego-networks, but in larger communities. However, these communities, although seemingly visible through social media, are still underresearched. In this work, we examine аn online friendship network spanning over an entire middle-size city amounting to 194,601 users of VK social network site. We find that the share of user’s in-city friends contributes to his/her brokerage and information influence abilities. More importantly, the number of user’s online groups - that is, user’s access to diverse or disconnected communities - is positively related with his/her bridging capital, and negatively with the bonding capital. Finally, our research questions the validity of some of the existing social capital measures. Highlights  All-city network represents a mixture of small-world and scale-free graph models  Longer SNS use gives a cumulative advantage for making additional friendship ties  Participation in more SNS groups increases a user's online bridging social capital  The number of likes on a user’s wall is positively associated with online bridging  The share of local friends among all user’s VK friends increases online bridging