Uses and gratifications of Facebook in Singapore


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Uses and gratifications of Facebook in Singapore

  1. 1. NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES AY 2008/2009, SEMESTER 1 NM2101: Theories of Communications and New Media Final Paper: Uses and Gratifications of SNS Done by: Lim Sui Shan Sarah U073249A Md Khairul Azmi B Suhaimi U071772M Mohammad Ridza B Salim U071716H Seow Weiqiang Jerome U071710M Thiang Xuefen U072904A © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 1
  2. 2. Contents Page 1. Abstract Page 3 2. Introduction Page 3 3. Literature Review Page 4 3.1 Discussion of the theory 3.2 Chosen Framework and Justifications 4. Analysis Page 9 4.1 Chosen SNS 4.2 Needs satisfied 4.3 Needs not satisfied 5. Discussion Page 20 5.1 Recommendations 5.2 Summary 5.3 Limitations of study 5.4 Additional applications 5.5 Future trends 6. Reference List Page 25 7. Appendix Page 28 © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 2
  3. 3. 1. Abstract Online Social Networking Sites (SNS) have become a pervasive phenomenon in Singapore. The surge in number of users has been propelled by their needs for social integration, which is closely tied to individual identity formation. Increasingly, excessive usage and potential addiction to such sites have led to calls for studies to investigate more about SNS. This paper will analyze how the usage of Facebook fulfills the individual‟s need for social integration. A literature review was done on the Uses and Gratifications theory to pick a framework. This was then used to determine what needs were fulfilled by Facebook. Further, we explored the needs that were not satiated and put forward recommendations to improve Facebook. 2. Introduction Social network sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Friendster and MySpace have widespread following the world over. Since their inception in 1997, studies have been conducted to study this phenomenon and the reasons why users participate in them. For the purpose of our study, we define SNS as online services that allow users to create an open profile within a system. Direct links to users‟ friends are provided and their extended networks are readily accessible to fellow users (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Amidst the abundance of SNS that have sprung up in recent years, one has managed to stand tall among its competitors. Facebook is the emerging force in recent trends of SNS. Garnering a 50% year over year growth in the United States over the past year, Facebook now commands about 20% of the market share for SNS over there © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 3
  4. 4. (“Facebook visits,” 2008). Here in Singapore, a similar trend has caught on. Despite its relatively later advent, Facebook are now only second to the incumbent Friendster network, recording more than half a million unique visitors in August 2008 (“Friendster #1,” 2008). There is thus a need to study this trend of increasing involvement in SNS. The effects of SNS involvement could eventually have economic, social and even political impacts. Business operations will be transformed (Cheney, 2008), relationships between people taken into a new sphere (Magid, 2008) and politicians will have new ground to spread their ideologies (Sullivan, 2008). These latent potentials of SNS, coupled with increasing participation in Singapore, afford significance to the issue. Involvement in SNS can be attributed to the various needs of users that are gratified by SNS. Our study will focus on the social integrative aspect of needs and why increasingly, people turn to SNS to fulfill them. 3. Literature Review 3.1 Discussion of the theory The Uses and Gratifications (U&G) literature provides an inexhaustible list of research foci. In our research, several journals that discussed differing communication mediums were reviewed. Our main focus, however, was directed towards research pertaining to users of the Internet. For a start, scholars recognize the need for television audience research to shift away from the hypodermic needle model of the early years. The new approach calls for the utilization of the U&G approach to provide a more accurate analysis (Abelman, © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 4
  5. 5. Atkin, & Rand, 1997; Ivala, 2007; Jamal & Melkote, 2008; Svennevig & Firmstone, 2000). This illustrates the fundamentals of U&G theory, where users are not regarded as passive and immediately accepting of the content. Instead, they evaluate and respond in an interactive manner with the medium involved (Shin, 2009). The similar response is also valid for Radio as a communication medium (Lin, 2006; Towers, 1985). For the purpose of this paper however, these framework are unsuitable. The loopholes are apparent given the differing traits between the communication channels of the Television, Radio and the Internet, where SNS are situated. The scale of the gratification framework has also been taken into account in the reviewing the literature. The translation of traditional media motives to the Internet is studied under the gratification of diversion (Ferguson & Perse, 2000; Ogan & Cagiltay, 2006). The diversion needs cited under the framework are “entertainment” & “relaxation”. However, this gratification framework used is too focused. When applied to a wide-ranged list of needs applicable to SNS, it might prove insufficient for a meaningful and elaborate discussion. A single gratification framework of diversion would limit a comprehensive review of the other possible motivations that might occur with SNS usage. Some U&G literatures covering the Internet medium were also found unsuitable as a theoretical framework. This is due to the context of the particular research focus. One such aspect is the uses and gratification of individuals in their search for political information on the Internet (Kaye & Johnson, 2002; Yan, 2006). It is not a suitable framework due to the act of finding political information online having, comparatively, a decreased social interactivity gratification vis a vis social networking sites. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 5
  6. 6. Linking the framework of U&G to how it contributes towards Internet dependency echoes a similar limitation (Sun, Rubin, & Haridakis, 2008). The framework focus is essentially geared towards motivations, which may lead to online dependency. In addition, Media Involvement and Media Dependency frameworks were combined in the analysis in determining causes of such dependency. Thus, the needs frameworks are more focused towards finding causes of dependency, which is unsuitable as it does not match with our paper‟s focus. Latent Gratification is also a framework reviewed for viability (Wenner, 1983). A discussion of the uses and gratifications of wireless portable Internet in Korea focuses on a particular framework of Latent Gratification (Shin, 2009). The argument is that such a framework is unique to wireless broadband use. The basis is that the user has a psychological need and readiness to access Internet resources at any point in time. The framework of Latent Gratification, though appealing, provides a problem of tangible determinism of the needs. This is due to its stance on the psychological aspect directed towards the wireless factor of the broadband medium, and not the content of the medium. Five key motivations for Internet use are explored and used to provide distinctions between purposeful and ritualized Internet use (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000). The framework is aptly suited towards a study of motivations of users in SNS. However, although the needs were found to be suitable, a more recent study provided an added dimension to the framework. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 6
  7. 7. 3.2 Chosen Framework and Justifications The selected study builds upon previous research by describing three key frameworks of consumer use of the Internet (Stafford, Stafford, & Schkade, 2004). It asserts that earlier researches are not as comprehensive due to the missing factor of Internet-specific gratifications. Empirical studies were conducted on customers of a prominent Internet Service Provider (ISP) to achieve the results. The study yielded 45 motivations (or needs) for Internet use, which were categorized into the three frameworks mentioned above. The terminology of the needs followed that of LISREL 8.12, a management model (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1993). The table (see Fig. 1 below) provides an analysis of the different needs, attributing differential coefficients to each, depending on the framework it relates to. A higher coefficient would indicate a better match, with items having higher or equal to 0.5 coefficient highlighted in bold. Such needs were then compartmentalized into the 3 frameworks: Process (termed as “to Pass Time” in Papacharissi & Rubin) describes the experience of the media use, to search for something just to pass time. The main needs in this framework included the items: resources, surfing & searching. Content (termed as “Information Seeking” in Papacharissi & Rubin) describes the actual purposeful use of the content carried by the medium. Here, the main needs are the items labelled as education, information, knowledge, learning and research. Social is a new framework proposed by the study. This describes the act by users in turning the Internet into a virtual environment, and not simply a medium. The main needs described in this framework are chatting, making friends and interaction. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 7
  8. 8. Figure 1: Following the LISREL 8.12, a management model (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1993), the terminology of the needs yielded 45 motivations (or needs) for Internet use, which were categorized into the three frameworks mentioned above. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 8
  9. 9. All three frameworks are user-centric, exploring the needs that users want to gratify when they use the Internet. The Social framework is proposed for our study because previous U&G studies have been based on the Process-Content frameworks. Thus, it is imperative that the Social framework is to be developed through future research. Older frameworks are beginning to be increasingly incompatible for studies on Internet use. A study of the Social gratification framework therefore allows for a better understanding the realm of new communications medium and also interactivity amongst users. This is useful for evaluating possible avenues in improving e-commerce and online applications, affording users a better online experience once their needs are gratified (Stafford, Stafford, & Schkade, 2004). Social gratification was chosen as our framework because of its relevance to the scope of SNS, which is essentially a platform enabling enhanced social interactivity. Additionally, the framework provides ample scope for analysis. The needs under the umbrella of the framework would provide a comprehensive review of SNS. 4. Analysis 4.1 Chosen SNS As mentioned in the introduction, Facebook usage has been on the rise on a global level. Thus, we have decided to focus on Facebook, applying the social gratification framework to predict how users‟ needs could be satisfied. Since Facebook opened to the public in September 2006, more than 10 million people have used it worldwide (Stern and Taylor, 2007). © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 9
  10. 10. A study by comScore showed that Facebook received only half the number of unique visitors in Singapore when compared to Friendster for August 2008. However, it is worthy to note that the relatively younger Facebook is rapidly gaining popularity in Singapore (“Friendster is,” 2008). In August 2008, a social media researcher at OgilvyOne conducted a Google Insights analysis to find out the popularity of SNS. This was done by finding out how often Facebook and Friendster is searched using the Google search engine, in Singapore. Results proved that Facebook was being searched more times than Friendster. The researcher highlighted the rising popularity of Facebook in Singapore, with frequent mentions in the news media and even the Prime Minister‟s National Day Rally speech (Guan, 2008). Facebook is able to meet the social integrative needs of users, enabling users to communicate, interact and keep in contact with family and friends. On another spectrum, Facebook can also aid a user's character and identity development. This occurs as users react and adjust to the people in the virtual environment of the online community. Facebook combines various functions and services that are available on other sharing websites on a single, easy to navigate interface. Within Facebook, users are afforded a combination of features from the best websites, in order to meet their needs. Facebook‟s instant messaging function is a representation of the Windows Live Messenger, allowing users to have online chats with contacts. Online storage and sharing of photographs and videos are reminiscent of Flickr and YouTube. Users‟ status updates work similarly to Twitter. A Gmail-like concept, where messages are displayed in threads, is used for its messaging function. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 10
  11. 11. 4.2 Needs Satisfied Communication and interaction Facebook satisfies a user‟s need to communicate and interact with friends and family. Users value online communities because it caters for easy communication at relatively low prices (Etzioni & Etziono 1997). Facebook users are able to utilize the staggering abundance of features available that helps and facilitates communication and interaction. Users‟ needs to communicate are fulfilled by Facebook‟s applications. The “Wall” function allows for public messages between friends. Messages can be composed and sent to a person or a group of friends. Users can also update their status via “status updates” and even extend event invites through the “Events” application. The recipient of the message has the choice to reply. As such, communication on Facebook can be one-way or two-way. This is linked to the idea of freedom of choice and speech over the Internet, because recipients of messages may choose not to respond. Herein lies the hyperpersonal advantage of Facebook. Facebook allows the need to interact to be gratified instantaneously through Instant Messaging. The function allows a user to chat with friends who are online. Although the interface is relatively simple, the chat function still fulfils the basic need for synchronous two-way interaction in a dominantly asynchronous environment of Facebook. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 11
  12. 12. On the whole, the communication that Facebook affords comes in a dual nature. Be it synchronous or asynchronous, the bottom line is that users are able to communicate with friends and family at minimal costs, improving communication and enhancing interaction simultaneously. Homophily At the individual level, Facebook users may, by the principle of homophily, which states that people select friends who have values similar to them (Lane, 1978), develop a sense of belonging to certain groups or community. Groups reflect the values of the user. Facebook users may choose to be a member of certain groups that are associated with one's personality, character, beliefs and cultural values. Users are also able to create a new group and invite their friends to join the group. Additionally, there is a function showing the groups recently joined by a user‟s friends, which increases the visibility of shared beliefs. Users join groups because of the association and sense of belonging that they are able to feel and gain. One's school and employer, groups for political or social causes, and groups for hobbies and interests are examples of groups on Facebook. Group, social or cultural norms At an individual level, Facebook users are able to reinforce certain group, social or cultural norms through the practice of self-censorship. As with any community, © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 12
  13. 13. Facebook users may endeavour to adhere to norms or standards set by the culture they subscribe to in order to maintain group membership. Facebook gives users the choice of revealing and editing the information to be shown on their profile. This would include basic information such as birthday, relationship status, political and religious views. At a deeper level, personal information such as interests, favourite books, contact information and work details. Users may choose to disclose information about them, which they think is regarded as socially acceptable, or appealing to others. This is done in order to adhere to group, social or cultural norms. Identity formation Virtual communities are platforms for individuals to shape and form identities through online interaction (Wilson and Peterson, 2002). As Facebook requires one's self- disclosure, this might help a person to develop his character or personality. This is crucial for social integration into the society or dominant culture he believes in. For example, one may indicate one's status as single and this might be a signal to other Facebook users that the former may be looking for a potential partner for a relationship. Also, the applications that people choose to display on their profiles, is a way of asserting identity. The “My Room” application allows users to furnish their “rooms” on Facebook. Depending on the design of the walls selected, one can be seen as fun, boring or unconventional by his/her friends. In choosing the wall design, these thoughts process through the user‟s mind, helping them satisfy their need for managing their own identity. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 13
  14. 14. Association of self Users are able to associate themselves with prestige groups, reinforcing offline associations in the process. This may also lead to aspiration creation, where the need to buy or own a material something is realized. This is made possible through various applications that enable users to express the brands that they would like to be associated with. "HotLists" allows users to add insignias or logos of brands that they support. Features such as the “send Louis Vuitton Gifts" enable users to send images of various products to friends as virtual gifts. At the risk of promoting consumerism, this function actually enables one to experience the material things that may not be within one‟s financial reach in reality. Consequently, it may also help to satisfy one's desire to own such products. Fun and entertainment The numerous interactive features on Facebook might satisfy the need for a user to relax, have fun and be entertained. A myriad of interactive features such as games, notes, photographs, videos, enable users to take pleasure by engaging in the numerous activities available. Facebook users are able to install applications and play a wide selection of games. Users are also able to upload and view personal videos and photographs, which are © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 14
  15. 15. shared easily with friends and family within one's circle. Users are able to comment on the videos and photographs. The interactive and engaging features satisfy a user‟s need to have fun and be entertained. 4.3 Needs not satisfied Indeed, some social integration aspects of user needs are satisfied through the use of Facebook. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that there are limitations to the use of this social networking site as well. The specific aspects of user needs identified as not fulfilled are as follows: Communication and freedom of choice/speech Wall posts, Super wall and even albums posted online serve as a constant reminder of the past. The human brain is innately structured to remember more happy memories than bad ones. However, bad experiences we may have had online in Facebook will be preserved in perpetuity (Boyd and Allison, 2007). Thus, free speech is not really free speech, as it often bounds users to things that they have said in perhaps, a heat of the moment. One of the limitations of Facebook is that it renders users liable for things they have said. Whilst it remains a good informal medium for communication, users have to think through what they have to say before posting. In this process, the spontaneity that Facebook is supposed to provide is reduced. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 15
  16. 16. The album function presents an added complexity to this issue. Whilst it may be easy for albums to be deleted, it is harder for users to delete photos that they have been tagged in. The reason being albums are created by the user, whereas tagged photos of them need not necessarily belong to them. Taking the event of a break-up for example, photos of a couple together on Facebook would be available online for as long as it is left there. Interaction Interaction on Facebook can be of both synchronous and asynchronous nature. This depends on whether the users involved are online at the same time. While synchronicity is desirable at times, it may prove otherwise in some instances. Sometimes, in a bid to satisfy a certain need at that particular moment in time, a user may end up doing something worthy of regret. Though Facebook makes it possible to retrace the action, the same cannot be said of its “blabbermouth” newsfeed service. Instantaneous updates are often provided when someone does something. This service goes further in providing users with the additional option of viewing activity in terms of status and photos uploaded as well. This keeps users in the loop of things while affording them the honour of being headline subjects too, reducing the need for privacy. Homophily The extended networks and actions performed by users are made known to friends in their network via the newsfeed function. With this increased visibility beckons a threat to users, especially those who possess very distinct multiple identities. Some users carry © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 16
  17. 17. out public conversations with their friends using wall posts, which can be viewed by everyone. This allows for different groups of friends to witness a side of the user that was previously unknown to them. A conflicting view of their friends is the result of this wall function. In turn, homophily is reduced, leading to users feeling more distant from each other. Though in truth, this might not prove to be the case. Group or Cultural norms through self-censorship Users often openly announce their public associations with groups/individuals. This leads to the issue of privacy often surfacing as a result of this openness of information. Allowing other users access to one's profile may be seen as an invitation to voyeurs and perhaps, even stalkers. Thus, this notion of public versus private sphere information (that "only friends" can have access to) becomes a difficult issue for users. Users undergo a decision-making process, compromising on comparative weigh-offs in the midst of doing so. Users may struggle with the permission settings, in the process, becoming over-protective of their own data, and being unable to utilize potential Facebook gratifications effectively. An example where a user failed to practice self-censorship and as a result lost his job is Kyle Doyle, who boasted about “chucking a sickie” on his Facebook status (Cazzulino & Saurine, 2008). This is a perfect example of how adhering to an online group norm of rampant information disclosure has led to repercussions for a user in the © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 17
  18. 18. offline setting, reducing the gratifications of using Facebook. This demonstrates how a lack of censorship and the ease of information access on Facebook can limit group membership. Identity formation The Facebook profile serves as an excellent example of impression management online. Users are able to select facets of themselves to display online, much to the satisfaction of their egos. However, this also means that this personification is often biased and untruthful. This will in turn fail to satisfy other users' need to know the "different, unseen" sides of their friends. Furthermore, posting and tagging photos reduces an individual's control over what is done with photos that contain themselves. In some instances where the photos are very private in nature, uploading them leads to embarrassment on the part of the user. In the same way, unfavourable or inaccurate facets of a person might be portrayed online. When misinterpreted by others as a perceived accuracy, it can cause dire consequences to a person's reputation. Consumerism © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 18
  19. 19. On Facebook, real life consumer products are being made virtually available. Users can now “purchase” gifts that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Increasingly, luxury products are being associated with the masses because everyone on Facebook already has them. In the process, the sense of worth consumers get when they buy the real gift is diminishing. Therefore, product placement and advertising on Facebook might cause less satisfaction for a Facebook user who purchases the real thing. Fun and Entertainment Enjoying game applications allows users to fulfill their need for healthy competition with their friends in the name of fun. However, in adding the application, users often find themselves having to grant the creators of the application access to their information. Enticed by the need to have fun with their friends, users are oftentimes compelled to comply without thinking twice. Advertisers‟ defense is that individuals are presented with a choice of whether or not to grant access. However, the true situation is that, more often than not, out of convenience, users would permit access to their personal information. However, this may increase dissatisfaction about Facebook as the privacy of users' information is not as guarded as promised. In addition, some applications have an inherent clause that friends must be invited. This „blackmail‟ results in users spamming their friends, which might not be the © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 19
  20. 20. intention of the user. Rather, it is a consequence of the workings of the application‟s "catch". The information paradox is pervasive online and seemingly unavoidable. Users, while complaining of the overload of information, constantly seek more information. Case in point―newsfeeds―users complain about it, but continue to read it religiously. This is due to the fact that newsfeeds provide a channel for quick information attainment and entertainment, satisfying the some users‟ need for timely “gossip” or updates about their friends in the process. 5. Discussion 5.1 Recommendations Privacy Although Facebook enables its users to maintain their privacy by deciding who can view their profile, there are certain drawbacks. Complains of Facebook‟s failure to protect its users have been reported in the news (“Canadians Investigate,” 2008). Moreover, the newsfeed function reveals all user online activities on Facebook to other members of the group. This function renders intimate details of users as being only a click away for others (Dickson, 2006). Facebook can improve by providing it users with tools to control their information in both the news and RSS feeds. Users‟ privacy would © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 20
  21. 21. very much be kept in check with a function that enables them to control the viewing of RSS feeds generating from their home pages. The ease of connectivity that Facebook facilitates presents another complexity. Friend requests from strangers are commonly accepted to prevent embarrassment. This in turn may lead to a barrage of requests from the stranger who has now gained connectivity via being accepted as a friend (Perez, 2008). All these arise from the hyperpersonal nature of online communication, and users‟ needs of wanting to portray an amiable public image. In addition, Facebook should provide its users with tools that enable them to keep online interaction with one friend from being revealed to others. All these additions to heighten the level of privacy on Facebook would ensure that users‟ privacy needs are adhered to. Realness Facebook facilitates the gratification of the need to interact instantaneously through Instant Messaging. The function allows for users to chat with a friend who is online. However, there are no provisions for group chats or the use of a webcam. Availability of webcam functions will enhance the realness element of online interaction, much like how Skype operates. Video posts attempt to plug this gap by allowing members from users‟ networks to view the videos. The realness factor, however, has to be inculcated into online interactions with friends. Another drawback, which is inherent in all online chat functions, is that there is a need for users to be online to enable © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 21
  22. 22. synchronous conversation. A novel development would be for Facebook to invent a tool that improves this in offline contexts as well. This would serve to further enhance the interaction needs of users. Multiple profiles Users are able to comply with their group, social, or cultural norm through the nature of information they want to reveal on their profile. Facebook users may desire to join different groups and in doing so, need to conceal some personal information. The facility to create multiple profiles will enable users to fulfill their social integrative need. Currently, users have to create a separate account in order to create another profile. These days, social networking is centred on the individual. Personal information revealed in users‟ profiles influences the acceptance of the user by their cultural group. Whilst there remains a presence of websites catered to communal interests, the focus of SNS is on people, rather than interests (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Adhering to cultural norms is an important part of social integration. Facebook can further enhance its help to users to join these different groups by facilitating multiple profiles within a single account. System clutter The functions on any social network site should be simple to cater to the digital immigrants. Digital natives are proficient with technology and are able to operate the various functions provided by Facebook with ease. Facebook should simplify this process for digital immigrants as well, in order to provide optimum usability. This will ensure © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 22
  23. 23. that, irrespective of technological competency, users will enjoy the full gratifications of Facebook. Also, it would very much aid the digital immigrants in social integration, as they will be on an equal playing field with digital natives. SNS are generally evolving very quickly, with new features being made available frequently. Users may actually be inundated with the sheer amount of new functions that may clutter the simplicity and impair the pleasure of surfing SNS. Thus, abundance in simplicity is what designers should aim for in order to gratify user needs without adding inconveniences. 5.2 Summary The meteoric rise in Facebook membership can be credited to the fact that it fulfills many needs of users. As seen in our study, Facebook caters in particular to the social integration needs of users. With its various functions, Facebook allows users to obtain much gratification. There is room for improvement though, as witnessed in the shortcomings that we explored. However, we foresee that the membership of Facebook will continue to grow. This is due to the value of gratification being greater than the obstacles that one has to face when using Facebook. 5.3 Limitations of Study In spite of the extensive literature on the U&G of SNS, the full understanding of the phenomenon is not yet achieved. The prime reason would be the relative youth of SNS and the fact that it has only rose to prominence in recent times. Thus, the effect that © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 23
  24. 24. studies may be discovering now could only be a novelty effect. In order to explore the true effects of SNS, long-term studies have to be conducted in the years ahead. Existing literature tend to investigate the impact of the Internet on a selected group of people or country. This points to a lack in transnational understanding of the issue. The Internet transcends geographical boundaries. As such, future studies could research on the impact of the Internet and SNS on different groups of people beyond national borders. 5.4 Additional Applications This study can be further expanded to include other SNS in Singapore and beyond, perhaps providing a fuller picture of the uses and gratifications of SNS in general. Another related area of research to consider is to examine the interplay of the 3 frameworks of process, content and social on the uses and gratifications of SNS. A scenario would be when a user uses SNS to pass time (process framework), by checking on updates of his friend (content framework), but the user ends up sending a message to a friend via SNS instead (social framework). Extensive studies can be conducted to explore the relationship between the three. 5.5 Future trends The use of SNS is likely to continue to grow, in accordance with today‟s trend. With this growth, the importance of studying them increases accordingly. Therefore, it is imperative that broader studies are required with regards to SNS. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 24
  25. 25. There is an increasing global awareness that SNS plays a pivotal role in establishing and maintaining relationships in both the offline and online contexts. Hence, the study of social gratification through SNS must be expanded and covered in greater breadth and depth. A clearer picture of the phenomenon of SNS will have profound effects in the social, economic and political aspect. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 25
  26. 26. 6. Reference List Abelman, R., Atkin, D., & Rand, M. (1997). What viewers watch as they watch TV: Affiliation change as case study. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 41(3), 360-380. Boyd, D.M., & Ellison, N.B. (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1). Article 11. Canadians Investigate Facebook Privacy Concerns. (2008). Retrieved November 5, 2008, from Cazzulino, M. & Saurine, A. (2008, October 23). Probe over call centre man's Facebook sickie blooper. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from,22049,24540389-5001021,00.html Cheney, S. (2008, January 20). Social networking sites may impact how traditional businesses work. Retrieved October 27, 2008, from Dickson, J. D. (2006, September 6). James David Dickson: All you need to know ... about Facebook. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from facebook Etzioni, A., & Etzioni, O. (1997). Communities: virtual vs real. Science, 277-295. Facebook Visits Up 50 Percent Year over Year. (2008). Retrieved October 28, 2008, from percent-29092008.php Ferguson, D., & Perse, E. (2000). The World Wide Web as a functional alternative to television. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media , 44, 155-174. Friendster Is #1 Social Network for Adults And Youth in Singapore. (2008, October 22). Retrieved Nov 1, 2008, from Friendster #1 in S'pore. (2008, October ). Retrieved October 28, 2008, from ?vgnmr=1 © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 26
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  28. 28. Perez, J. (2008, January 1). Facebook: Where everybody knows your name. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from _look Shin, D. H. (2009). Virtual gratifications of wireless Internet: Is wireless portable Internet reinforced by unrealized gratifications? Telematics & Informatics, 26(1), 44-56. Stafford, T. F., Stafford, M. R., & Schkade, L. L. (2004). Determining Uses and Gratifications for the Internet. Decision Sciences, 35(2), 259-288. Stern, L., & Taylor, K. (2007, September). Social Networking on Facebook. Journal of the Communication, Speech & Theatre Association of North Dakota, 20, 9-20. Sullivan, M. (2008, November 3). 'Facebook Effect' mobilizes youth vote. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from ebook.Effect.Mobilizes.Youth.Vote-3519584.shtml Sun, S., Rubin, A. M., & Haridakis, P. M. (2008). The Role of Motivation and Media Involvement in Explaining Internet Dependency. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 52(3), 408-431. Svennevig, M., & Firmstone, J. (2000). Putting the new into context: a backwards look at new information technologies. International Journal of Advertising, 19(5), 581-597. Towers, W. (1985). Perceived helpfulness of radio news and some uses and gratifications. Communication Research Reports, 2(1), 172-78. Wenner, L. A. (1983). Political News on Television: A Reconsideration of Audience Orientations. Western Journal of Speech Communication: WJSC, 47(4), 380-395. Wilson, S, & Peterson, L. (2002). The Anthropology of Online Communities. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 449-467 Yan, T. (2006). Political Use and Perceived Effects of the Internet: A Case Study of the 2004 Election. Communication Research Reports, 23(2), 129-137. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 28
  29. 29. 7. Appendix Figure: A screenshot of a typical Facebook interface. © 2009 by Azmi Suhaimi, Sarah Lim, Ridza Salim, Jerome Seow & Xuefen Thiang Page 29