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Abstract

Social network sites like MySpace are increasingly important environments for expressing and maintaining interpersonal connections, but does online communication exacerbate or ameliorate the known tendency for offline friendships to form between similar people (homophily)? This article reports an exploratory study of the similarity between the reported attributes of pairs of active MySpace Friends based upon a systematic sample of 2,567 members joining on June 18, 2007 and Friends who commented on their profile. The results showed no evidence of gender homophily but significant evidence of homophily for ethnicity, religion, age, country, marital status, attitude towards children, sexual orientation, and reason for joining MySpace. There were also some imbalances: women and the young were disproportionately commenters, and commenters tended to have more Friends than commentees. Overall, it seems that although traditional sources of homophily are thriving in MySpace networks of active public connections, gender homophily has completely disappeared. Finally, the method used has wide potential for investigating and partially tracking homophily in society, providing early warning of socially divisive trends.