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Scary news: Facebook knows when you're going to break up

If you think that your relationship status updates, friend-ing and de-friending activities are going unnoticed by Facebook’s behind-the-scenes crew then think again. The T-shirt-clad data scientists, hackers, and brainboxes behind the internal workings of the social networking site are observing the ups and downs of the site's users with great interest.

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Masterfile

If you think that your relationship status updates, friend-ing and de-friending activities are going unnoticed by Facebook’s behind-the-scenes crew then think again. The T-shirt-clad data scientists, hackers, and brainboxes behind the internal workings of the social networking site are observing the ups and downs of the site’s users with great interest.

Cue the scary music.

One of the things two data scientists have figured out through user monitoring reportedly is how long a relationship will last (via MSNBC.com). They’ve even come up with a seasonal and weekly algorithm to indicate when relationships are most likely to blossom or implode. Jackson Gorham and Andrew T. Fiore shared the interesting insights they’ve come up with about the “seasonality of relationship formation” after analyzing the relationship status updates of users from 2010 to 2011.

According to the duo, relationships follow a curiously consistent pattern that can be linked to certain days of the week as well as certain months or seasons. For example, the holidays may be stressful but they seem to be particularly potent relationship-wise, with Valentine’s Day and Christmas ringing up the love tally for people and with new relationships forming. On February 14, they recorded 49 percent more new relationships than breakups. Christmas Day resulted in 34 percent more ‘in a relationship’ updates.

Oddly enough, however, the summer months of May through to August tend to adversely affect the health of relationships, with a higher rate of breakups recorded during these months. Days of the week also seem to affect the way people make up or break up, it seems. Often riding the weekend high, many new relationships appeared to be formed from Sunday to Tuesday. As the week winds down, however, so too can romantic ardor—the scientists found a higher rate of breakups on Fridays and Saturdays.

The scientists hypothesize that the symbolic meaning of the weekdays plays a role in how people behave. They wrote: “[P]eople looking for a change tend to end their old relationships in time to spend the weekend with friends or get back in the game with someone new. Or maybe, as the song goes, breaking up is hard to do, and having a difficult conversation has to wait until the work week winds down. As for the net gain in relationships at the start of a new week? That may be a visible echo of the weekend’s festivities — and the new social ties that result.”