Social Media: Lecture 3 Social networking Facebook and some others…

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This is lecture 3 of a course on social media at the University of Winchester. This lecture looks at the history of social networking sites and in particular at Facebook. It examines the impact of the Like, Facebook login and open graph aspect in particular.

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Social Media: Lecture 3 Social networking Facebook and some others…

  1. 1. Lecture 3 Social networking Facebook and some others…
  2. 2. Introduction Defining SNS and the difference between networking and network. A history of SNSs Critical issues in SNS
  3. 3. The idea of Social Networks  Lots of commentators have argued that the things we do on social media have been possible for a long time.  While not executed through electronic media we have been able the same things as SNS (and other social media) for a long time.
  4. 4. E.G.  Standage (2013) argues that in ancient Rome Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) wrote letters for both private and public consumption.  People would bring him information they wished to be publically disseminated and Cicero would collect information from the Acta Diurna (daily acts) state documents published daily.  Cicero was himself a social networking site.
  5. 5. But…  This is not really what we mean by social media and especially SNS.  Problem lies in that SNSs are a technological facilitation of a social practice.  We already communicate but SNSs allow us to do it technologically.  So we need a proper definition.
  6. 6. Social network(ing) sites – a definition  Lots of definitions are possible and have been proposed.  A widely accepted one is that of boyd and Ellison (2008: 211) who define SNS as “web based services that allow individuals to: 1. Construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system; 2. Articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and 3. View and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.”
  7. 7. SNS are about existing networks  boyd and Ellison explicitly use network rather than networking.  The see SNS as ways of articulating and making visible already existing social relations rather than explicitly for making new links.  An electronic Cicero.  While making new links is possible they argue it is not the point of these sites and is not what separates them from other sites.  So they are about networks rather than the activity of networking.  Does this hold true 6 years later?
  8. 8. Hmmm.  If we concur with the definition we can identify the first webpage that meets these criteria and start to develop a history of social media.
  9. 9. Six Degrees  Started in 1997.  Combined features found on other distinct sites - create profile, list friends, surf friend‟s lists.  Closed in 2000, not a viable business model.  Not enough actual networks online – evidence of argument that SNS are about pre existing comms.  Warning – there are lots of companies using six degrees in their title.
  10. 10. Lots of small community specific ones began to emerge.  EG Friends reunited (2000).  Got venture capital investment.  2000: 3000 members  2001: 2.5 million members  2005 15 million members; sold to ITV for £120 million.  Numbers started to drop but made a profit in 2007 but was sold for 25 million in 2009 to Brightsolid Limited.  2011 worth £5 million.  2013 „reincubated‟ Aug 2000 Feb 2014 Dec2000
  11. 11. 2003 +  Lots of SNS emerge.  Hard to had short but glorious lives: Friendster, some popular in some locations but not others: Orkut (google) very popular in Brazil but unpopular in the USA.  The „social nature‟ of social media also impacted upon some - eg MySpace did well because people on Friendster said F was going to start charging and they should shift.
  12. 12. SNS global  Different SNS seem to work in different countries.  US = MySpace  UK = Bebo  Orku = Brazil  Mixi = Japan  Lunar Storm = Scandinavia  Cyworld = South Korea
  13. 13.  Started in 2005 and initially only for Harvard, then other Ivy League college students.  Expanded to other universities then high schools, then everyone else.  Sold shares in 2012 – total valuation was $16 billion.  1.23 billion monthly active users as of December 31, 2013.  757 million daily active users on average in December 2013 average 20 mins per visit.  Made $1.5 billion and is valued at $135 billion.
  14. 14. Has the bubble burst? No but…  A recent report offers a picture that Facebook may need to be wary:  Youth not using Facebook as they did - use alternative social media – snapchat.  Maybe not a problem though as FB now has significant non teen users and they shift less than fickle, „zeitgeisty‟ youth who chase cool.  Going mobile, while slow to start now very strong – 53% of revenue comes from adverts on mobile devices.
  15. 15. Market domination  FB dominates the social SNSs market but there are strong (but much smaller) competitors in other spheres.  Work – LinkedIn  Even academics – Academia.ed u
  16. 16. Critical issues  A number of different critical areas in SNS research:  Impression management – what we say of ourselves to others.  The structure of a users connections – nodes and interactions between networks.  The off line / online connections.  Privacy versus sharing.
  17. 17. Sharing and Privacy  Many SNS companies emphasize sharing – it is the common aspect of all SNS.  It is often contrasted with Privacy.  Historically Privacy has been a quality we command - I can do what ever I wish with my private information and privacy must be defended.  Zuckerberg argues that privacy is evolving and changing and new interpretations of it are now emerging.
  18. 18. However…  A number of authors argue that it is not privacy that is changing but sharing.  For many sharing implies a sense of „openness‟ of making the personal available to others.  In social media this sense is very strong – we share what we want to disseminate to others.  However there is another sense of sharing.
  19. 19. The other meaning of sharing  While we use FAB to share our information with others, FB itself collates our information and shares it with third parties - often for commercial purposes.  Thus sharing has evolved from peer to peer sharing to peer to peer and by computation to a third party.  The SNS / computer networks „leverage‟ us to derive profit.  Our connectivity is a resource for the SNS corporation – what I referred to last time as the dialogic and enhanced sociability of social media.
  20. 20. How did we get here?  Over the past 10 years there has been a gradual change in the way we think about sharing and privacy to the point where FBs use of our data does not seem problematic.  FB has „coded‟ the new meaning into its systems and the semantic (widely accepted) meaning has changed along with it.  They changed was coded in two main ways, one of which you will know and one you may not:  Like.  Open Graph API
  21. 21. Beacon  Fb made a big early mistake in sharing.  It launched Beacon in 2007;  Users enrolled by default (and initially they could not opt out).  Their data was sold to companies, and the companies could target them and their friends especially when you made a purchase.  Lots of privacy issues violated – one website passing on info to another.  Lots of protest, FB changed apologised and closed it.  The problem was that it was too explicitly commercial.
  22. 22. Facebook Platform  FB launched a set of downloadable tools that web developers could use to build adds-ons for FB.  The basic set included:  Gifts, users send each other presents  Marketplace, users make adds to sell things  Events, make adds for events  Video, upload and share video  game, games where connections help you advance.  Also launched a subset of HTML FBML so apps could be developed.
  23. 23. Lots of new stuff  These APIs resulted in millions of new games and apps being developed which people install on their profile.  In May 2010 these were added to – open graph and „like‟.
  24. 24. Open Graph API  Allows a FB login into a non FB page. “Login with Facebook”.  This links innumerable disparate parts of the web together by the user‟s ID on FB.  Moreover using the it initiates the start of the Universal ID – a way of identifying all activity on the web and tying it to a singular ID – every object – picture, piece of music web page and every person has a unique id with values attached.  Every thing you have connected with when associated with your FB id is tied to you.  All your previously separate web activity linked. {“id”: “797870155 ″, “name”: “Marcus Leaning”, “first_name”: “Marcus”, “last_name”: “Leaning”, “username”: “Marcusleaning”, “gender”: “male”, “locale”: “en_UK” }
  25. 25.  The „Like us on Facebook‟ button on many pages does the same thing, but now it is not just purchases but your preferences, agreements and perhaps moral actions that are now being tied to your login – have you every liked something „political‟?  No longer just commercial activity but moral ordering.
  26. 26. Sharing on new levels  This is possibly more than most people recognise by agreeing to the T and Cs of Facebook in relation to sharing.  But it is establishing the norm of the idea now.  Sharing has moved on from:  Me to my friends  My FB info to companies who may sell me things  My commercial activity „off FB‟ via FB login  All my web activity tied to me through likes - BUT NOT OWNED BY ME – and can be sold to other companies, employers, credit scoring agencies, political parties, governments…
  27. 27. So what?  It has moved from companies targeting you with ads to decisions being made about you from data that you do not have control over.  This is „Big Data‟ - the mapping of your life through data.  Combined with „inferential learning‟ offers a range of problematic potential futures…

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