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Navigation Characteristics of Online Social Networks and Search Engines Users

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Executive Summary

Online Social Networks (OSNs) represent a significant portion of Web traffic today, comparable with search engines. Even though their primary purpose is different from that of search engines, OSNs are impacting how users navigate the Web and what types of websites they visit. This paper is motivated by the desire to understand the similarities and differences in the websites users visit through OSNs versus through search engines. Using Web traffic logs from 17,000 DSL subscribers of a Tier 1 ISP in the United States, the authors find that while OSN visitors are less likely to navigate to external websites, when they do, they spend more time at those websites compared to when search engine users visit external websites.

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