Social Networking and Online Communities.Our lives… Online.SLIDE 1You would have to live under a rock to not know about online social networking, let alone beinvolved in it in some way. With its positives and negatives, we are still continuing to push our livesonline and take use of the world that is online social networking.SLIDE 2On October 4 2012, Facebook announced that it had 1 billion active users each month. This is arounda sixth of the entire world’s population that includes babies, the elderly and people without accessto technology. Another way to see its size is by thinking if Facebook was a country it would be thethird largest only behind China and India.SLIDE 3On announcement of this feat, Facebook released this video demonstrating the power and vastconnectivity of the global social networking phenomenon.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7SjvLceXgUSLIDE 4And this is just Facebook! Facebook is the most used online social networking website, but othersare not far behind and continue to grow! The next most popular include Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace,Google+, DeviantArt, LiveJournal, Tagged, Orkut and Pinterest rounding out the top ten.SLIDE 5So who makes up these 1 billion people?According to the 2012 Social Network Analysis Report by Ignite Social Media, more women useFacebook, Twitter and Myspace than men, with LinkedIn being fairly even.And to the surprise of many, the younger audience is always not the largest one! The 45-54 year oldage group was the most popular on Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace, and was not far behind the 25-34 year olds on Twitter.In terms of geography, Turkey is the country with the highest use of Facebook, Venezuela dominatesTwitter, The Netherlands is the highest user of LinkedIn, the highest use of Google+ is in Nepal, andPuerto Rico is the most popular country for Myspace.SLIDE 6So these statistics are a bit all over the place! We as a human beings love social networking, and withincreased accessibility and features, online social networking is loved by all shapes and kinds all overthe world.
SLIDE 7As the use of online social networking is on the rise, the younger generation of people have barelylived their lives without it, and in terms of social standing, you don’t have a life unless you engage inan online social network!“When I ask teenagers why they joined MySpace, the answer is simple: “Cuz that’s where my friendsare.” – Danah Boyd.SLIDE 8“Im in the 7th grade. Im 13. Im not a cheerleader. Im not the president of the student body. Orcaptain of the debate team. Im not the prettiest girl in my class. Im not the most popular girl in myclass. Im just a kid. Im a little shy. And its really hard in this school to impress people enough to beyour friend if youre not any of those things. But I go on these really great vacations with my parentsbetween Christmas and New Years every year. And I take pictures of places we go. And I writeabout those places. And I post this on my Xanga. Because I think if kids in school read what I have tosay and how I say it, theyll want to be my friend.” – Vivien, 13, to Parry Aftab during a “Teen Angels”meeting.SLIDE 9This goes to show, that online social networks create a haven for young people, almost a secondhome. They can be whoever they want to be online. If they post a comment or a status they realisethey should have posted, they can delete it. They have the choice of who sees their profiles, andwhat pictures of theirs are accessible and who they choose to be friends with. Their online profilescreate almost another separate identity for them from the one they live in the real world.SLIDE 10As these identities are created online, there can be added pressure for youth to hold a certainreputation on these websites. In a dog eat dog world, popularity is a highly sought afteraccomplishment. For young people, being well-liked is often vital for surviving through school. As ourlives are now online, users thrive on likes, positive comments, pokes and their quantity of friends inorder to boost their social standing.“This increased awareness of others minute actions may have interesting implications for the waywe relate to others and understand ourselves.” – Vladimir Barash.“The breadth and importance of the peer group during early adulthood is magniﬁed by the numberof Facebook friends that students, particularly young women, reported”- Tiffany A. Pempek,Yevdokiya A. Yermolayeva, Sandra L. Calvert.SLIDE 10Life is different online than it is in real life. Hiding behind a computer screen can often enableconfidence in the user, and make them engage with people they ordinarily wouldn’t. Social networksare even a common place for shy singles to meet each other!
“Even when using a very weak definition of “friend” (i.e., anyone who a user has directed a post to atleast twice) we find that Twitter users have a very small number of friends compared to the numberof followers and followees they declare. This implies the existence of two different networks: a verydense one made up of followers and followees, and a sparser and simpler network of actual friends.”SLIDE 11However, this can lead to negative implications. As discussed, people can be who they want to beonline and project a particular image to their peers. So this can often lead to people saying certainthings and behaving in certain ways that they wouldn’t ordinarily in real life.Words can be a lot easier to say on a keyboard rather than out loud, and with the opportunity topost under a fake alias, it is a lot easier to be crude without facing any implications.“Think of the ways weve used technology to make our lives portable. Pervasive. With us all the time.Now throw someone who doesnt like you into that mix. The reason is unimportant. What matters isthey have a presence in this portable world, as do you. And with that point of connection thetaunting, the insults and the negativity are now portable.” – William Cohen, ABC Technology andGames.SLIDE 12The issue of privacy is also a downside of living our lives on a publicly accessible sphere. There areonly 3.74 degrees of separation between every single user of Facebook worldwide. Despite our vastdifferences, we are all linked by this growing phenomenon. This increases the accessibility of ourprofiles, even with privacy settings.“Even social networking websites that do not openly expose their users’ identities may provideenough information to identify the profile’s owner” – Ralph Gross and Alessandro Acquisti.SLIDE 13When we upload content up on to a website that website gains all ownership of that information,and we leave ourselves susceptible to having this information used against us.Every profile has certain information that is accessible to anyone.“By default, everyone on the Facebook appears in searches of everyone else, independent of thesearchers institutional affiliation. In search results the users’ full names (partial searches for e.g. firstnames are possible) appear along with the profile image, the academic institution that the user isattending, and the users’ status there.” - Ralph Gross and Alessandro Acquisti.SLIDE 14As so much information is available on social networking websites, this lack of privacy can also beused as a tool by some to gain certain information.Employers have been known to look on potential employees pages to find out their professionalism,past employment, relationships and even what sort of personality they have.
As we are so willing to share details about ourselves so publically, social networking also opens upthe likelihood of stalking, where the stalker doesn’t even have to be seen by anyone else to gain thisinformation.“Using the information available on profiles on the Facebook a potential adversary (with an accountat the same academic institution) can determine the likely physical location of the user for largeportions of the day.” - Ralph Gross and Alessandro Acquisti.SLIDE 15Despite the negatives of social networking, it is gradually becoming the go to place, not only for ouridentities as people, but also for everything else surrounding us.It is becoming a must-have of a Business to operate a professional Facebook page. Due to its vastpulling power, Facebook is the ultimate tool for businesses; an easy, cheap outlet to advertise, placepromotions, gain attention and most importantly reach a wide audience.“Facebook offers so many opportunities to reach customers with specialized advertising that almostevery business can benefit from some sort of paid advertising on Facebook, even if it spends only afew dollars a week” – Darin Hartley.Along with being a connection, online social networking has also become a re-connection for many.Allowing old schoolmates, work colleagues, distant family relatives and alike to reach each otherthrough a simple, instant resource.Gone are the days of emails and letters. We can now easily contact each other by a simple tweet,wall post or comment for free and without having to wait to receive these messages.SLIDE 16So whether you see the increasing trend of online social networking as a negative or a positive thing,there is no denying or stopping its might as a global entity. With its increased accessibility, ease ofuse, and abilities, our lives are shifting from real to virtual and only time will tell how powerful thisamazing phenomenon will be.