Exploring Millions of Footprints in Location Sharing Services

  • Cheng Z
  • Caverlee J
  • Lee K
 et al. 
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Location sharing services (LSS) like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places support hundreds of millions of user- driven footprints (i.e., “checkins”). Those global-scale foot- prints provide a unique opportunity to study the social and temporal characteristics of how people use these services and to model patterns of human mobility, which are significant factors for the design of future mobile+location-based ser- vices, traffic forecasting, urban planning, as well as epidemi- ological models of disease spread. In this paper, we inves- tigate 22 million checkins across 220,000 users and report a quantitative assessment of human mobility patterns by ana- lyzing the spatial, temporal, social, and textual aspects as- sociated with these footprints. We find that: (i) LSS users follow the “L` evy Flight” mobility pattern and adopt periodic behaviors; (ii) While geographic and economic constraints affect mobility patterns, so does individual social status; and (iii) Content and sentiment-based analysis of posts associated with checkins can provide a rich source of context for better understanding how users engage with these services. 1

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  • Zhiyuan Cheng

  • James Caverlee

  • Kyumin Lee

  • Daniel Z. Sui

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