The vast information-gathering capabilities of Facebook can be highly creepy when one’s own data is singled out. Nevertheless, when applied to big chunks of the population, it can reveal fascinating patterns that probably couldn’t have been ferreted out before without laborious and expensive surveys.
Case in point: This graph of breakups over the course of the year, as culled from over 10,000 status updates by data-minded supersleuth David McCandless. In a pattern apparently very much influenced by the college calendar, Spring Break and the period two weeks before Christmas witness huge spikes in breakup frequency; people also like to begin the summer by being single, and Monday is the most common day of the week for breakup announcements.
Update, 11/3/10: McCandless, who seems to emanate more fascinating data visualizations than he can keep track of, has posted a slightly tweaked version of the graph on his site. “Christmas too cruel. Hahah!”