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Help! My Mom’s on Facebook (by  Dr. Bernie Hogan)
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Help! My Mom’s on Facebook (by Dr. Bernie Hogan)


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Speaker: Dr. Bernie Hogan, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford …

Speaker: Dr. Bernie Hogan, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Organizers: at Dalhousie University

Sponsors: SSHRC & MITACS

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  • 1. Help! My Mom’s on Facebook Combating Lowest Common Denominator Culture on Social Media Sites Bernie Hogan Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute University of Oxford Presentation at Dalhousie School of Information Management March 25, 2011Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 2. “On the Internet Nobody Knows You’re a Dog”Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 3. Until you go to, surf for puppy chow, fire hydrants and other dogs.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 4. Welcome to the Real Name InternetSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 5. Sampled 10 million ties. “When I shared the image with others within Facebook, it resonated with many people. Its not just a pretty picture, its a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders.” Butler (2010)Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 6. [“The Social Network” Movie Poster]Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 7. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 9. Source: thefridge.comSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 10. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 11. What is a Friend on Facebook? • Technically, a friend is a form of information access control for this giant database. • Friends are the basis of content distribution.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 12. Source:, 26 March 2011
  • 13. source: lamebook.comSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 14. source: lamebook.comSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 15. source: lamebook.comSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 16. But people don’t always think about their audienceSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 17. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 18. Reasons for friends on SNS (boyd, 2006) 1. Actual friends 2. Acquaintances, family members, colleagues 3. It would be socially inappropriate to say no because you know them 4. Having lots of friends makes you look popular 5. It’s a way of indicating that you are a fan (of that person, band, etc.) 6. Your list of friends reveals who you are 7. Their Profile is cool so being friends makes you look cool 8. Collecting friends lets you see more people 9. It’s the only way to see a private profile 10. Being friends lets you see someone’s bulletins and their Friends-only blog posts 11. You want them to see your bulletins, private profile, private blog 12. You can use your friends list to find someone later 13. It’s easier to say yes than no.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 19. Facebook as information curator • It is not a ‘place’, it is a system of distribution for a growing user base. • Thus, it is not a proper curator of fine unique art objects, but of mundane and easily replicable everyday content. • Collects and archives data, then puts on a unique exhibit for each and every user. • Where does it get this content? Your ‘Friends’.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 20. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 21. A theory of lowest common denominator culture • People tend to censor their posts by the lowest common denominator of all their friends on a specific account, rather than consider their accounts “public” or “private”. • But as friend lists increase, this makes discussion of sensitive topics ever more difficult.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 22. Pre-Modern Modern Hometown Family Family Neighbors Clan Sports Town Co- workers A simplified view of Simmel’s “Web of Group Affiliations”Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 23. Modern Facebook Hometown Family Friends Neighbors Sports Friends of Friends Co- Everyone workersSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 24. Facebook Twitter Friends Everyone Friends of Friends EveryoneSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 25. But do we really have one big circle of friends? no.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 26. A social network analysts view of Facebook People are dots. Friend connections are lines. Connected groups automatically cluster together 1 2 4 5 3Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 27. Facebook Friends Coherently Cluster My work focuses on ego-centered networks...“the network of me”Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 28. Example Facebook Networks • Clearly show different social worlds • Make distinguishing social groups easy • Still not being used in practice* * Except recently on OrkutSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 29. My Network in 2009 Yellow-Green: Work Blue: University Green: High School Grey: FamilySaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 30. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 31. Not a homogenous group Friends of Friends EveryoneSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 32. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 33. Source:, 26 March 2011
  • 34. Why does this map make sense? • In the most basic sense, nodes in a network (people) can be clustered by a simple principle: group nodes where there are more connections within the group than between the group. • This works visually by laying out a network where connected nodes are pulled together and unconnected nodes pushed apart.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 35. The Classic Networky Look in Action The “Fruchterma-Rheingold” Algorithm 10 Iterations of 100 Iterations of force direction force direction Source: Hogan, 2010Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 36. Dense ballLewis, K, J Kaufman, and N Christakis. 2008. “The Taste for Privacy: An Analysis of College Student Privacy Settings in an Online Social Network.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 14(1): 79-100.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 37. Research Questions • Do these network clusters actually represent personal social groups • Do the groups on Facebook match people’s expectations Methods • Facilitated social worlds diagram. • Facebook network through NameGenSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 38. Facilitated Social Worlds “People in your life may be part of larger social groups such as friends, co-workers or family. I’m going to draw a circle representing these groups. A bigger circle represents more people and a smaller group, less people. If people from one of these groups know each other, then the circles will overlap.”Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 39. Example diagramSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 40. NameGenWebSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 41. NameGen DesktopSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 42. NameGen DesktopSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 43. Visualizing Through GUESSSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 44. Sample / Research Design • Pre-test for full project • Convenience Recruitment through flyers distributed across town and in local classified ads. • Consequently: • Many individuals who are out of work, part- time or in transition. • Present sample of 10 individuals • 3 full-time, 4 part-time and 3 unemployedSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 45. Do Facebook Networks Map onto offline notions of networks? • When presented with visualizations, individuals tend to assume groups are legit, but overall are very apt to name the groups on Facebook. • Every individual interviewee named the largest community immediately after seeing a few names. • However, the connectivity of the groups was a surprise to many individuals.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 46. Example SociogramsSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 47. “Bolivar”Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 48. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 49. Oxford Friends Ex-students Hobby group Anonymous Friends Foreign friendsSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 50. Example I: Imagine if I could draw a circle around those people, and say “you’re the [Anonymous] group, you stay in your own little silo, you get to say you a friend with me on facebook, but that’s as far as it goes. Would that be sufficient?” It wouldn’t be, because I still want to be, I still need to be in contact with them because part of program is to care about them, and be there for them....You know I could get a message from one of them saying that they’re in a really bad way and they need a chat or something, and I have to be, I want to be there to help if I can. That’s the tricky element. On the other hand, they’ve all got my phone number. Y’know, but sometimes, this is the other things, perhaps its easier for some of these people to express themselves on facebook than it is to pick up their mobile and ring their number.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 51. “Sara”Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 52. Linked on Facebook to big group through few brokers Much larger on FacebookSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 53. Family Local Friends Three co-worker groups FriendsSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 54. “Tyrone”Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 55. Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 56. Other Oxford friends actually connected. Big core with periphery as suggested. School friends actually connected.Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 57. Persistent contentSaturday, 26 March 2011
  • 58. Consequences? • Focus • Avoidance • Watered down content • Stenography • Privacy Tweaks • Fragmentation • Silence • Norm change...? • Exodus?Saturday, 26 March 2011
  • 59. Thank You Bernie Hogan Research Fellow, OII Twitter: @blurky Hogan, Bernie. 2010a. “The Presentation of Self in the Age of Social Media: Distinguishing Performances and Exhibitions Online.” Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30(6): 377-386. Hogan, Bernie. 2010b. “Visualizing and Interpreting Facebook Networks.” In Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL, eds. D Hansen, Marc A Smith, and Ben Shneiderman. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, p. 165-180. Brooks, Brandon, Howard T. Welser, Bernie Hogan & Scott titsworth. 2011. “Socioeconomic Status Updates: Family SES and emergent social capital in college student Facebook networks.” Information, Communication & Society (OnlineFirst): 1-21.Saturday, 26 March 2011