Facebook pages have been a common subject of academic research as a means for analysing the object of study. Generally investigators are eager to grasp interaction, content or page management in order to comprehend and evaluate specific topics (e.g. collective actions or self-representation, catastrophes, elections), events, and actors (network). To do so, different approaches are used; content or descriptive analysis, (N)etnography, qualitative or quantitative, statistics, computational, etc. However, among these, digital methods approach is (still!) rarely considered a central part of research design for social scientists, traditional methods are still the main tool for researchers, at least in Portugal; investigators dependent on manual data extraction and offline-based references (Omena & Rosa, 2015).

In Portugal (between 2011-2014) the main focus of the studies on Facebook covered four dimensions correlated with one another, and followed by specific research interests (see chart below): i) Users (utilizadores) with a major interest in understanding how they interact with posts, identifying the most compelling posts, and also user’s gender; ii) Interaction (interação) in an effort to identify and analyse users or posts, and quantify the interaction process; iii) Pages (páginas) with the intention of verifying the daily posts, number of likes and comments, and posts types; and, finally iv) Posts, aiming to categorize, examine interaction, and distinguish pots that have the greatest impact.

detalhamento dos métodos - estudos no facebook
Facebook Studies in Portugal (Omena, 2015): interests and methods
This introduction was made intentionally  in order to not only demonstrate a research gap, but also, and primarily, to display different approaches to fulfil the gaps. What are the main connections of a particular page on Facebook? How to pinpoint and analyse these connections or representative clusters? How activity is prescribed? What are the advantages of grasping the network political representation (or connections)? These types of questions are seldom contemplated and in Portugal case previously mentioned, they were neither considered nor actually posed by investigators. Page like network analyses either respond to such questions as provide new hints on the subject of study. What I present here is some possibilities of using specific attributes and metrics to analyse Facebook Pages through their like network (depth 1 or 2). 
The first example brings Pixuleco; a fictional character anti-government and pro-impeachment page. Pixuleco is a Brazilian slang that means “bribe” or even “money laundry”, this term is correlated with the corruption case in Brazil named “Operação Lava Jato” (Car Wash Operation). The following diagram show Pixuleco Page like networks (depth 2) under two attributes: post activity and talking about count (data extraction: 13 July 2016). In one case, node size means very (or less) intense posting activity , in the other, it represents users high (or little) engagement in interacting with Pixuleco. Engagement here means users posting or mentioning the page, liking, commenting or sharing its contents, meanwhile colours display clusters.

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I call attention to the difference between post activity and talking about count. The first regards activity, in other words, publications made by page and (when allowed) by users. The second option talking about count refers to users engagement; acts of like, share, comment, mentions etc. Important to report here is that being active does not imply a page to be popular in terms of users engagement or attracting users attention. Moreover both post activity and talking about count indicators change over time; they can evolve, diminish or stagnate. For instance, a page posting activity can be relatively high, for instance: 5419 posts of Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s Page on 1 June 2016 (only two were uploaded by the page) – what is interesting, though, is that users can create posts but they have no permission to the page’s timeline (find more details written in portuguese on this post id: 10210303401408193 or in this file). Another example of exaggerated posting activity can be found in Movimento Brasil Livre with a total of 8675 publications in March 2016. For these cases my questions are: who are more engaged, page or users? Or what does it mean to have a great number of people interacting with a page but not enabling others to see these posts? 

Beyond media/news pages and Paulo Coelho, here are examples page´s posts with high talking about count in Pixuleco´s network: Movimento Contra Corrupção – post id: 901294779982791, Partido Anti-PT – post id: 1743875885878211, and Sargento Fahur – post id: 1048607208569572 . Facebook has recently removed this latter page (with more than 1 million likes) due to violent content and harassment, but page’s owners created a new one. Now, regarding the most active pages in Pixuleco´s network; after Youtube and media/news pages, we have Movimento Contra Corrupção (again!), Juiz Sérgio Moro (a Federal judge), Jair Messias Bolsonaro (Brazilian Federal Deputy that publicly supported the military coup in 1964) and Movimento Brasil Livre (Free Brazil Movement or MBL that since early 2015 is considered one of the main leaders of pro-impeachment grassroots movements in Brazil). Find below examples of the type of posts published by Movimento Contra Corrupção (post id: 901294779982791) and Sargento Fahur (post id: 1048607208569572). 

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When opting to evaluate Facebook Pages under their like network, it is recommended to be aware of attributes like post activity and talking about count. Now, changing subjects from participatory politics in Brazil to UEFA European Championship. Portugal first won the Euro Cup 2016 playing against the host country; France. Driven by curiosity I collected the page like network (depth 1) of Seleção Nacional (Portugal National Team) and Équipe de France de Football (data extraction: 13 July 2016) in order to explorer in-degree (indicates page popularity) and out-degree (indicates page activity). Before moving on with analysis based on degree, I propose an exercise, here it goes post activity and talking about count of Seleção Nacional and Équipe de France for your appreciation. In addition, I added diagrams also showing fan count.

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Going back to matter of metrics (or the measurement of performance) for dynamic measuring popularity (indegree) or activity (outdegree). The following diagrams (depth 1) first display outdegree; node size represents a page activity in terms of connecting other pages by like. Then, page´s popularity is measured by quantity of likes received from others pages. Colours show clusters in both diagrams; community detection may guide studies on composition, structure and topics of discussion in a network, or how information flow is prescribed in a specific cluster giving opportunity to quantitatively or qualitatively analyse content (Jürgens, 2012).

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A great number of possibilities for analysing Facebook Pages can be found here, and I have not mentioned all options practically available. However, regarding post activitytalking about count, page’s popularity or activity, one of my main concerns would be finding a balance between ‘data you got plus all possible strategies of analyses’ and ‘choosing appropriated attributes, metrics or strategies’ to have rich insights in you research. In other words, why picking outdegree instead of post activity? From which perspective shall one measure popularity (e.g. post’s engagement, fan count, talking about count, indegree)? Is time range being considered? Social context matters just as well a socio-technical appreciation; they shall be together and not be separated.

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