Socializing online and in the real world may be edging ever closer, but one stark difference remains: it's much easier to juggle different groups of friends offline than it is online. A new tool developed at Stanford University addresses the problem by automatically working out a person's different and overlapping friendship groups by analyzing the history of their Facebook or Gmail account.
The tool—called SocialFlows—is available as a Facebook app. Once a Facebook user connects it with their account, they can extract their social groups in two ways. The researchers' software can either work from the images a person was tagged in over the last two years, or from the pattern of e-mail recipients recorded in the last two years via a Gmail account.