April 1, 2013

Using Facebook after Losing a Job: Differential Benefits of Strong and Weak Ties

ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW)

By: Moira Burke, Robert Kraut


Among those who have recently lost a job, social networks in general and online ones in particular may be useful to cope with stress and find new employment. This study focuses on the psychological and practical consequences of Facebook use following job loss.

By pairing longitudinal surveys of Facebook users with logs of their online behavior, we examine how communication with different kinds of ties predicts improvements in stress, social support, bridging social capital, and whether they find new jobs.

Losing a job is associated with increases in stress, while talking with strong ties is generally associated with improvements in stress and social support. Weak ties do not provide these benefits. Bridging social capital comes from both strong and weak ties. Surprisingly, individuals who have lost a job feel greater stress after talking with strong ties.

Contrary to the “strength of weak ties” hypothesis, communication with strong ties is more predictive of finding employment within three months.