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Social Network Sites: An Overview


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A short lecture I gave to an undergraduate HCI class to highlight research & findings on social network sites (SNSs).

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Social Network Sites: An Overview

  1. 1.  Social Network Sites: An Overview UMBC IS-303: Fundamentals of Human-Computer InteractionJessica VitakMichigan State UniversityUniversity of / @jvitak
  2. 2. SNSs: What are they?boyd and Ellison (2007) define SNSs as “web-based services that allowindividuals to:(1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system;(2) articulate a list ofother users with whomthey share a connection, and(3) view and traverse theirlist of connectionsand those made by otherswithin the system.”
  3. 3. SNSs: Updated DefinitionEllison and boyd (in press): A social network site is a networkedcommunication platform in which participants: 1) have uniquely identifiable profiles that consist of user-supplied content, content provided by other users, and system-level data; 2) can publicly articulate connections that can be viewed and traversed by others; and 3) can consume, produce, and interact with streams of user- generated content.
  4. 4. Source: Madden & Zickhur, 2011. Pew Internet Project. Who uses SNSs?
  5. 5. v SNS users are more likely to be: • Women • Young No statistically significant differences based on: • Race • Income • Education • Geographic location Source: Madden & Zickhur, 2011. Pew Internet Project.
  6. 6. What other SNSs exist besides Facebook?  Foreign-based SNSs (Cyworld, QQ)  Children’s SNSs (Club Penguin, Webkinz)  Demographic-specific SNSs (BlackPlanet)  SNSs for animals (Dogster, Catster)  Professional SNSs (LinkedIn)  And on… And on…
  7. 7. Why do people use SNSs?Joinson (2008) Papacharissi & Mendelson (2011)“Looking at,” “Looking up” or “Keeping up Toward a New(er) Sociability: Uses, Gratificationswith” People? Motives and Uses of Facebook and Social Capital on Facebook  Social connection  Expressive info seeking  Shared identities  Habitual pass time  Viewing/sharing photos  Relaxing entertainment  Social investigation  Cool, new trend  Social network surfing  Companionship  Status updating  Professional achievement  Escape  Social interaction  Meet new people
  8. 8. Why do people use SNSs?
  9. 9. What SNS users do: Broadcasting
  10. 10. What SNS users do: Commenting
  11. 11. What SNS users do: “Liking”
  12. 12. What SNS users do: Private Messages
  13. 13. Impression Management on SNSs Impression Management: Sum of behaviors individuals engage in to either control or manipulate observers’ attributions of them
  14. 14. What are negative effects of using SNSs? Facebook addiction? Negative social outcomes  Losing your job  Getting caught in a lie  Losing health benefits  Underage drinking Making us more narcissistic? More depressed? Lonelier? Increased fear of missing out (FOMO)?* Take these with a grain of salt. Many are based on anecdotal rather than empirical evidence.
  15. 15. Benefits to Using SNSsSocial Capital: benefits derived from interactions withyour social network Bridging Bonding
  16. 16. Bridging Social Capital
  17. 17. Bonding Social Capital
  18. 18. Maintained Social Capital * Source: Bernie Hogan
  19. 19. Research at MSU Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe (2007)  Intensity of Facebook use (FBI) predicts social capital Steinfield, Ellison, & Lampe (2008)  People with lower self-esteem benefit more from their use of Facebook than those with higher self-esteem Vitak, Ellison & Steinfield (2011) & Ellison, Vitak, Gray & Lampe (r&r)  Engaging with your network is important
  20. 20. Research at MSULampe et al. (2011): How dostudents use Facebook tocollaborate on school work? Positive Collaboration:  Arrange group meeting  Ask for help  Manage group project Negative Collaboration  Sharing homework answers  Sharing quiz/test answers
  21. 21. Research at MSU Gray et al. (2012): Can Facebook improve college retention?  Example: Inigral’s Schools application Facebook + Bonding Collaboration Social Behaviors Capital + College + Social + Persistence Friends on Adjustment Facebook at College to College
  22. 22. Research at MSU How much I like you Tong et al. (2008): When you have too many “friends” on a SNS, people rate you as less socially attractive # of FB Friends Total FB Friends Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe (2011)  Actual friends matter more than Actual total friends when it comes to Friends perceptions of social capital Among undergrads: 25% Among MSU staff: 37%
  23. 23. What does it mean to be a Facebook “Friend”? Robin Dunbar claims you can only manage meaningful relationships with 150 people. Dunbar: “Our minds are not designed to allow us to have more than a very limited number of people in our social world. The emotional and psychological investments that a close relationship requires are considerable, and the emotional capital we have available is limited.”
  24. 24. Facebook users have *a lot* of Friends Vitak (2012): Most users reported having many Facebook Friends  M = 500, Median = 433, SD = 2nd Tier 361, range: 62 – 1600 Weak And many were weak ties* Ties 3rd  8% of network considered close Tier ties  52% of network considered very weak ties* Measured using four of Aron et al.’s (1992) Inclusion of Other in Self items
  25. 25. Pew data: SNS users vs. non-users How big is your social network?  Average American: 634 ties  Average Internet user (669) vs. non-user (506) ties  Average cell phone user: 664 ties  Average SNS user: 636 ties* Source: Hampton et al. (2011)
  26. 26. Public Displays of Connection* On SNSs, links between two users are (sometimes):  Mutual  Public  Unnuanced Displaying connections can help someone else establish that you are who you say you are* Donath & boyd (2004)
  27. 27. SNSs & Context CollapseSelective Self-Presentation:We present different versionsof the self depending on ouraudience EgoContext collapse occurs whenwe “perform” for differentaudiences at same time (e.g.,weddings)
  28. 28. Context Collapse on Facebook
  29. 29. Impact of Context Collapse Marwick & boyd (2011)  Treat public space (Twitter) as if it were bounded Vitak, Lampe, Gray, & Ellison (2012)  Strategies for maintaining work/personal life boundary Vitak (2012)  Engaging with privacy features  Increased disclosures  Increased perceptions of social capital
  30. 30. ResourcesEllison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook "friends:" Social capital and college students use of onlinesocial network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 1143-1168.Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2011). Connection strategies: Social capital implications of Facebook-enabledcommunication practices. New Media & Society, 13, 873-892.Madden, M. & Zickhur, K. (2011). 65% of Online Adults Use Social Networking Sites, Pew Internet & American Life Project,Washington.Tong, S.T, .Van Der Heide, B., Langwell, L., & Walther, J.B. (2008). Too much of a good thing? The relationship between number offriends and interpersonal impressions on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, 531-549.Stutzman, F., Vitak, J., Ellison, N., Gray, R., & Lampe, C. (2012). Privacy in interaction: Exploring disclosure and social capital inFacebook. In Proceedings of the 6th annual International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM).Vitak, J., Lampe, C., Ellison, N., & Gray, R. (2012). “Why won’t you be my Facebook Friend?”: Strategies for dealing with contextcollapse in the workplace. In Proceedings of the 7th Annual iConference (pp. 555-557). New York: ACM.Lampe, C., Wohn, D. Y., Vitak, J., Ellison, N., & Wash, R. (2011). Student use of Facebook for organizing collaborative classroomactivities. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 6, 329-347.Gray, R., Vitak, J., Easton, E., & Ellison, N. (2012, May). Harnessing social technology in students’ transition to college: Facebook’srole in student adjustment and persistence. Paper presented at the International Communication Association 62nd AnnualConference, Phoenix.Vitak, J. (2012, May). The impact of context collapse and privacy on social network site disclosures. Paper presented at theInternational Communication Association 62nd Annual Conference, Phoenix.