The concept that “your friends have more friends than you” is called the Friendship Paradox and it is one of the many ways to look at social contagion, the diffusion of innovation, adoption curves and social networks in general. That is one of the ideas presented in Connected – The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives by Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH and James H. Fowler, PhD. If you haven’t read the book (yet, cos I know you want to) you can check out their website which includes downloadable slides, multimedia and lots of links to take you further into the research. Another great place to see their work explained in a multitude of ways is their YouTube Channel.
There are many humanistic and ethically right ways to use information like this. Like a lot of new technolgy and knowledge there are also ways to use these kinds of things disruptively. I recently watched the movie The Joneses (Demi Moore and David Duchovny), not a bad movie and a great example of both the friendship paradox, adoption curves and disruptive use of the theories behind social network contagions.by