This article is about the type of service. For the social science theoretical concept of relationships between people, see Social network. For a list of services, see List of social networking websites.
A social networking service (also social networking site, SNS or social media) is an online platform that people use to build social networks or social relations with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections. The variety of stand-alone and built-in social networking services currently available online introduces challenges of definition; however, some common features exist:
- social networking services are Internet-based applications
- user-generated content (UGC) is the lifeblood of SNS organisations.Online community services are sometimes considered[by whom?] social-network services, though in a broader sense, a social-network service usually provides an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, digital photos and videos, posts, and to inform others about online or real-world activities and events with people in their network. While in-person social networking – such as gathering in a village market to talk about events – has existed since the earliest development of towns, the Web enables people to connect with others who live in different locations, ranging from across a city to across the world. Depending on the social media platform, members may be able to contact any other member. In other cases, members can contact anyone they have a connection to, and subsequently anyone that contact has a connection to, and so on. LinkedIn, a career-oriented social-networking service, generally requires that a member personally know another member in real life before they contact them online. Some services require members to have a preexisting connection to contact other members.
The main types of social networking services contain category places[clarification needed] (such as former school-year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and a recommendation system linked to trust. One can categorize social-network services into three types:
- socializing social network services used primarily for socializing with existing friends (e.g., Facebook)
- networking social network services used primarily for non-social interpersonal communication (e.g., LinkedIn, a career- and employment-oriented site)
- social navigation social network services used primarily for helping users to find specific information or resources (e.g., Goodreads for books)
There have been attempts to standardize these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries of friends and interests (see the FOAF standard). A study reveals that India recorded world's largest growth in terms of social media users in 2013. A 2013 survey found that 73% of U.S. adults use social-networking sites.
A challenge of definition
The variety and evolving range of stand-alone and built-in social networking services in the online space introduces a challenge of definition. Furthermore, the idea that these services are defined by their ability to bring people together provides too broad a definition. Such a broad definition would suggest that the telegraph and telephone were social networking services – not the Internet technologies scholars are intending to describe. The terminology is also unclear, with some referring to social networking services as social media.
A recent attempt at providing a clear definition reviewed the prominent literature in the area and identified four commonalities unique to current social networking services:
- (1) social networking services are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications,
- (2) user-generated content (UGC), such as user-submitted digital photos, text posts, "tagging", online comments, and diary-style "web logs" (blogs), is the lifeblood of the SNS organism,
- (3) users create service-specific profiles for the site or app that are designed and maintained by the SNS organization, and
- (4) social networking services facilitate the development of social networks online by connecting a user's profile with those of other individuals or groups.
Offline and online social networking services
|Characteristic||Offline social network||Online social network|
|Degree centrality||While the number of cognitively manageable ties is limited to about 150 (Dunbar 2003), most people report having 14-56 ties at average (Granovetter 1983; van Tilburg 1995; Christakis and Fowler 2009)||Huge amount of ties technologically possible, but average number is limited, e.g., Facebook: 395 (Tong et al. 2008), LinkedIn: 149 (Utz 2016), XING: 121 (Buettner 2016c), Twitter: 150-250 (Gonçalves et al. 2011; Hofer and Aubert 2013)|
|Symmetry||Usually symmetric (reciprocal behavior, cf. Buettner (2009))||Symmetric (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, XING, cf. Buettner (2016d)) and asymmetric (e.g., Twitter, cf. Buettner and Buettner (2016))|
|Affect||Positive (92-97 %) and negative (3-8 %) tie relationships (Kane et al. 2014) can be managed using high sophisticated coordination mechanisms such as argumentation and negotiation (Buettner 2006a, 2006b; Landes and Buettner 2012; Buettner 2016a)||Except through blocking (e.g., Twitter) or hiding (e.g., Facebook) limited support to deal with negative tie relationships|
|Strength||2-8 strong ties and 12-48 weak/latent ties on average (Granovetter 1983; Christakis and Fowler 2009)||9-37 strong ties and 68-131 weak/latent ties on average (Levin and Cross 2004; De Meo et al. 2014; Utz 2016)|
|Dynamic of change||Low due to manual interaction (Freeman 1977; Miritello et al. 2013)||High because of technological support (Miritello et al. 2013; Kane et al. 2014)|
The potential for computer networking to facilitate newly improved forms of computer-mediated social interaction was suggested early on. Efforts to support social networks via computer-mediated communication were made in many early online services, including Usenet,ARPANET, LISTSERV, and bulletin board services (BBS). Many prototypical features of social networking sites were also present in online services such as America Online, Prodigy, CompuServe, ChatNet, and The WELL.
Early social networking on the World Wide Web began in the form of generalized online communities such as Theglobe.com (1995),Geocities (1994) and Tripod.com (1995). Many of these early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and encouraged users to share personal information and ideas via personal webpages by providing easy-to-use publishing tools and free or inexpensive webspace. Some communities – such as Classmates.com – took a different approach by simply having people link to each other via email addresses. PlanetAll started in 1996.
In the late 1990s, user profiles became a central feature of social networking sites, allowing users to compile lists of "friends" and search for other users with similar interests. New social networking methods were developed by the end of the 1990s, and many sites began to develop more advanced features for users to find and manage friends. This newer generation of social networking sites began to flourish with the emergence of SixDegrees.com in 1997, followed by Makeoutclub in 2000,Hub Culture and Friendster in 2002, and soon became part of the Internet mainstream. However, thanks to the nation's high Internet penetration rate, the first mass social networking site was the South Korean service, Cyworld, launched as a blog-based site in 1999 and social networking features added in 2001. It also became one of the first companies to profit from the sale of virtual goods. Friendster was followed by MySpace and LinkedIn a year later, and eventually Bebo. Friendster became very popular in the Pacific Islands. Orkut became the first popular social networking service in Brazil (although most of its very first users were from the United States) and quickly grew in popularity in India (Madhavan, 2007). Attesting to the rapid increase in social networking sites' popularity, by 2005, it was reported that Myspace was getting more page views than Google. Facebook, launched in 2004, became the largest social networking site in the world in early 2009.Facebook was first introduced as a Harvard social networking site, expanding to other universities and eventually, anyone. The term social media was introduced and soon became widespread.
See also: Social impact of the Internet § Social networking and entertainment
Web-based social networking services make it possible to connect people who share interests and activities across political, economic, and geographic borders. Through e-mail and instant messaging, online communities are created where a gift economy and reciprocal altruism are encouraged through cooperation. Information is suited to a gift economy, as information is a nonrival good and can be gifted at practically no cost. Scholars have noted that the term "social" cannot account for technological features of the social network platforms alone. Hence, the level of network sociability should determine by the actual performances of its users. According to the communication theory of uses and gratifications, an increasing number of individuals are looking to the Internet and social media to fulfill cognitive, affective, personal integrative, social integrative, and tension free needs. With Internet technology as a supplement to fulfill needs, it is in turn affecting every day life, including relationships, school, church, entertainment, and family. Companies are using social media as a way to learn about potential employees' personalities and behavior. In numerous situations a candidate who might otherwise have been hired has been rejected due to offensive or otherwise unseemly photos or comments posted to social networks or appearing on a newsfeed.
Facebook and other social networking tools are increasingly the aim of scholarly research. Scholars in many fields have begun to investigate the impact of social networking sites, investigating how such sites may play into issues of identity, privacy,social capital, youth culture, and education. Research has also suggested that individuals add offline friends on Facebook to maintain contact and often this blurs the lines between work and home lives. According to a study in 2015, 63% of the users of Facebook or Twitter in the USA consider these networks to be their main source of news, with entertainment news being the most seen. In the times of breaking news, Twitter users are more likely to stay invested in the story. In some cases when the news story is more political, users may be more likely to voice their opinion on a linked Facebook story with a comment or like, while Twitter users will just follow the sites feed and/ or retweet the article.
A 2015 study shows that 85% of people aged 18 to 34 use social networking sites for their purchase decision making. While over 65% of people aged 55 and over rely on word of mouth. Several websites are beginning to tap into the power of the social networking model for philanthropy. Such models provide a means for connecting otherwise fragmented industries and small organizations without the resources to reach a broader audience with interested users. Social networks are providing a different way for individuals to communicate digitally. These communities of hypertexts allow for the sharing of information and ideas, an old concept placed in a digital environment. In 2011, HCL Technologies conducted research that showed that 50% of British employers had banned the use of social networking sites/services during office hours.
Research has provided us with mixed results as to whether or not a person's involvement in social networking can affect their feelings of loneliness. Studies have indicated that how a person chooses to use social networking can change their feelings of loneliness in either a negative or positive way. Some companies with mobile workers have encouraged their workers to use social networking to feel connected, educators are using it to keep connected with their students and individuals are benefiting from social networking to keep connect with already close relationships that they've developed under circumstances that would otherwise make it difficult to do so. Each social networking user is able to create a community that centers around a personal identity they choose to create online. In his book Digital Identities: Creating and Communicating the Online Self,Rob Cover argues that social networking's foundation in Web 2.0, high-speed networking shifts online representation to one which is both visual and relational to other people, complexifying the identity process for younger people and creating new forms of anxiety. In 2016, news reports stated that excessive usage of SNS sites may be associated with an increase in the rates of depression, to almost triple the rate for non-SNS users. Experts worldwide[which?] have said that 2030 people who use SNS more have higher levels of depression than those who use SNS less. At least one study went as far as to conclude that the negative effects of Facebook usage are equal to or greater than the positive effects of face-to-face interactions.
According to Boyd and Ellison's (2007) article, "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life", social networking sites share a variety of technical features that allow individuals to: construct a public/semi-public profile, articulate a list of other users that they share a connection with, and view their list of connections within the system. The most basic of these are visible profiles with a list of "friends" who are also users of the site. In an article entitled "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship," Boyd and Ellison adopt Sunden's (2003) description of profiles as unique pages where one can "type oneself into being". A profile is generated from answers to questions, such as age, location, interests, etc. Some sites allow users to upload pictures, add multimedia content or modify the look and feel of the profile. Others, e.g., Facebook, allow users to enhance their profile by adding modules or "Applications". Many sites allow users to post blog entries, search for others with similar interests and compile and share lists of contacts. User profiles often have a section dedicated to comments from friends and other users. To protect user privacy, social networks typically have controls that allow users to choose who can view their profile, contact them, add them to their list of contacts, and so on.
There is a trend towards more interoperability between social networks led by technologies such as OpenID and OpenSocial. In most mobile communities, mobile phone users can now create their own profiles, make friends, participate in chat rooms, create chat rooms, hold private conversations, share photos and videos, and share blogs by using their mobile phone. Some companies provide wireless services that allow their customers to build their own mobile community and brand it; one of the most popular wireless services for social networking in North America and Nepal is Facebook Mobile.
|“||The things you share are things that make you look good, things which you are happy to tie into your identity.||”|
|— Hilary Mason, chief data scientist, bitly, VentureBeat, 2012|
While the popularity of social networking consistently rises, new uses for the technology are frequently being observed. Today's technologically savvy population requires convenient solutions to their daily needs. At the forefront of emerging trends in social networking sites is the concept of "real-time web" and "location-based". Real-time allows users to contribute contents, which is then broadcast as it is being uploaded—the concept is analogous to live radio and television broadcasts. Twitter set the trend for "real-time" services, wherein users can broadcast to the world what they are doing, or what is on their minds within a 140-character limit. Facebook followed suit with their "Live Feed" where users' activities are streamed as soon as it happens. While Twitter focuses on words, Clixtr, another real-time service, focuses on group photo sharing wherein users can update their photo streams with photos while at an event. Facebook, however, remains the largest photo sharing site—Facebook application and photo aggregator Pixable estimates that Facebook will have 100 billion photos by Summer 2012. In April, 2012, the image-based social media network Pinterest had become the third largest social network in the United States.
Companies have begun to merge business technologies and solutions, such as cloud computing, with social networking concepts. Instead of connecting individuals based on social interest, companies are developing interactive communities that connect individuals based on shared business needs or experiences. Many provide specialized networking tools and applications that can be accessed via their websites, such as LinkedIn. Others companies, such as Monster.com, have been steadily developing a more "socialized" feel to their career center sites to harness some of the power of social networking sites. These more business related sites have their own nomenclature for the most part but the most common naming conventions are "Vocational Networking Sites" or "Vocational Media Networks", with the former more closely tied to individual networking relationships based on social networking principles.
Foursquare gained popularity as it allowed for users to check into places that they are frequenting at that moment. Gowalla is another such service that functions in much the same way that Foursquare does, leveraging the GPS in phones to create a location-based user experience. Clixtr, though in the real-time space, is also a location-based social networking site, since events created by users are automatically geotagged, and users can view events occurring nearby through the Clixtr iPhone app. Recently, Yelp announced its entrance into the location-based social networking space through check-ins with their mobile app; whether or not this becomes detrimental to Foursquare or Gowalla is yet to be seen, as it is still considered a new space in the Internet technology industry.
One popular use for this new technology is social networking between businesses. Companies have found that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to build their brand image. According to Jody Nimetz, author of Marketing Jive, there are five major uses for businesses and social media: to create brand awareness, as an online reputation management tool, for recruiting, to learn about new technologies and competitors, and as a lead generation tool to intercept potential prospects. These companies are able to drive traffic to their own online sites while encouraging their consumers and clients to have discussions on how to improve or change products or services. As of September 2013, 71% of online adults use Facebook, 17% use Instagram, 21% use Pinterest, and 22% use LinkedIn.
In 2012, it was reported that in the past few years, the niche social network has steadily grown in popularity, thanks to better levels of user interaction and engagement. In 2012, a survey by Reuters and research firm Ipsos found that one in three users were getting bored with Facebook and in 2014 the GlobalWebIndex found that this figured had risen to almost 50%. The niche social network offers a specialized space that's designed to appeal to a very specific market with a clearly defined set of needs. Where once the streams of social minutia on networks such as Facebook and Twitter were the ultimate in online voyeurism, now users are looking for connections, community and shared experiences. Social networks that tap directly into specific activities, hobbies, tastes and lifestyles are seeing a consistent rise in popularity. Niche social networks such as Fishbrain for fishing and Strava for cycling. These social platforms offer brands a rich space in which to engage with their target market and build awareness.
One other use that is being discussed is the use of social networks in the science communities. Julia Porter Liebeskind et al. have published a study on how new biotechnology firms are using social networking sites to share exchanges in scientific knowledge. They state in their study that by sharing information and knowledge with one another, they are able to "increase both their learning and their flexibility in ways that would not be possible within a self-contained hierarchical organization". Social networking is allowing scientific groups to expand their knowledge base and share ideas, and without these new means of communicating their theories might become "isolated and irrelevant". Researchers use social networks frequently to maintain and develop professional relationships. They are interested in consolidating social ties and professional contact, keeping in touch with friends and colleagues and seeing what their own contacts are doing. This can be related to their need to keep updated on the activities and events of their friends and colleagues in order to establish collaborations on common fields of interest and knowledge sharing. Social Networks are used also to communicate scientists research results and as a public communication tool and to connect people who share the same professional interests, their benefits can vary according to the discipline. The most interesting aspects of social networks for professional purposes are their potentialities in terms of dissemination of information and the ability to reach and multiply professional contacts exponentially. Social networks like Academia.edu, LinkedIn, Facebook, and ResearchGate give the possibility to join professional groups and pages, to share papers and results, publicize events, to discuss issues and create debates. Academia.edu is extensively used by researchers, where they follow a combination of social networking and scholarly norms. ResearchGate is also widely used by researchers, especially to disseminate and discuss their publications, where it seems to attract an audience that it wider than just other scientists.
The advent of social networking platforms may also be impacting the way(s) in which learners engage with technology in general. For a number of years, Prensky's (2001) dichotomy between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants has been considered a relatively accurate representation of the ease with which people of a certain age range—in particular those born before and after 1980—use technology. Prensky's theory has been largely disproved, however, and not least on account of the burgeoning popularity of social networking sites and other metaphors such as White and Le Cornu's "Visitors" and "Residents" (2011) are greater currency. The use of online social networks by school libraries is also increasingly prevalent and they are being used to communicate with potential library users, as well as extending the services provided by individual school libraries. Social networks and their educational uses are of interest to many researchers. According to Livingstone and Brake (2010), "Social networking sites, like much else on the Internet, represent a moving target for researchers and policy makers." Pew Research Center project, called Pew Internet, did a USA-wide survey in 2009 and in 2010 February published that 47% of American adults use a social networking website. Same survey found that 73% of online teenagers use SNS, which is an increase from 65% in 2008, 55% in 2006. Recent studies have shown that social network services provide opportunities within professional education, curriculum education, and learning. However, there are constraints in this area. Researches, especially in Africa, have disclosed that the use of social networks among students have been known to negatively affect their academic life. This is buttressed by the fact that their use constitutes distractions, as well as that the students tend to invest a good deal of time in the use of such technologies.
Albayrak and Yildirim (2015) examined the educational use of social networking sites. They investigated students' involvement in Facebook as a Course Management System (CMS) and the findings of their study support that Facebook as a CMS has the potential to increase student involvement in discussions and out-of-class communication among instructors and students.
Professional use of social networking services refers to the employment of a network site to connect with other professionals within a given field of interest. SNSs like LinkedIn, a social networking website geared towards companies and industry professionals looking to make new business contacts or keep in touch with previous co-workers, affiliates, and clients. Not only does LinkedIn provide a professional social use, but it also encourages people to inject their personality into their profile–making it more personal than a resume. Other network sites are now being used in this manner, Twitter has become [a] mainstay for professional development as well as promotion and online SNSs support both the maintenance of existing social ties and the formation of new connections. Much of the early research on online communities assume that individuals using these systems would be connecting with others outside their preexisting social group or location, liberating them to form communities around shared interests, as opposed to shared geography. Other researchers have suggested that the professional use of network sites produce "social capital". For individuals, social capital allows a person to draw on resources from other members of the networks to which he or she belongs. These resources can take the form of useful information, personal relationships, or the capacity to organize groups. As well, networks within these services also can be established or built by joining special interest groups that others have made, or creating one and asking others to join.
According to Doering, Beach and O'Brien, a future English curriculum needs to recognize a major shift in how adolescents are communicating with each other. Curriculum uses of social networking services also can include sharing curriculum-related resources. Educators tap into user-generated content to find and discuss curriculum-related content for students. Responding to the popularity of social networking services among many students, teachers are increasingly using social networks to supplement teaching and learning in traditional classroom environments as they can provide new opportunities for enriching existing curriculum through creative, authentic and flexible, non-linear learning experiences. Some social networks, such as English, baby! and LiveMocha, are explicitly education-focused and couple instructional content with an educational peer environment. The new Web 2.0 technologies built into most social networking services promote conferencing, interaction, creation, research on a global scale, enabling educators to share, remix, and repurpose curriculum resources. In short, social networking services can become research networks as well as learning networks.
Educators and advocates of new digital literacies are confident that social networking encourages the development of transferable, technical, and social skills of value in formal and informal learning. In a formal learning environment, goals or objectives are determined by an outside department or agency. Tweeting, instant messaging, or blogging enhances student involvement. Students who would not normally participate in class are more apt to partake through social network services. Networking allows participants the opportunity for just-in-time learning and higher levels of engagement. The use of SNSs allow educators to enhance the prescribed curriculum. When learning experiences are infused into a website students utilize everyday for fun, students realize that learning can and should be a part of everyday life. It does not have to be separate and unattached. Informal learning consists of the learner setting the goals and objectives. It has been claimed that media no longer just influence human culture; they are human culture. With such a high number of users between the ages of 13–18, a number of skills are developed. Participants hone technical skills in choosing to navigate through social networking services. This includes elementary items such as sending an instant message or updating a status. The development of new media skills are paramount in helping youth navigate the digital world with confidence. Social networking services foster learning through what Jenkins (2006) describes as a "participatory culture". A participatory culture consists of a space that allows engagement, sharing, mentoring, and an opportunity for social interaction. Participants of social network services avail of this opportunity. Informal learning, in the forms of participatory and social learning online, is an excellent tool for teachers to sneak in material and ideas that students will identify with and therefore, in a secondary manner, students will learn skills that would normally be taught in a formal setting in the more interesting and engaging environment of social learning. Sites like Twitter provide students with the opportunity to converse and collaborate with others in real time. Social networking services provide a virtual "space" for learners. James Gee (2004) suggests that affinity spaces instantiate participation, collaboration, distribution, dispersion of expertise, and relatedness. Registered users share and search for knowledge which contributes to informal learning.
In the past, social networking services were viewed as a distraction and offered no educational benefit. Blocking these social networks was a form of protection for students against wasting time, bullying, and invasions of privacy. In an educational setting, Facebook, for example, is seen by many instructors and educators as a frivolous, time-wasting distraction from schoolwork, and it is not uncommon to be banned in junior high or high school computer labs.Cyberbullying has become an issue of concern with social networking services. According to the UK Children Go Online survey of 9- to 19-year-olds, it was found that a third have received bullying comments online. To avoid this problem, many school districts/boards have blocked access to social networking services such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter within the school environment. Social networking services often include a lot of personal information posted publicly, and many believe that sharing personal information is a window into privacy theft. Schools have taken action to protect students from this. It is believed that this outpouring of identifiable information and the easy communication vehicle that social networking services opens the door to sexual predators, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking. In contrast, however, 70% of social media using teens and 85% of adults believe that people are mostly kind to one another on social network sites. Recent research suggests that there has been a shift in blocking the use of social networking services. In many cases, the opposite is occurring as the potential of online networking services is being realized. It has been suggested that if schools block them [social networking services], they're preventing students from learning the skills they need. Banning social networking […] is not only inappropriate but also borderline irresponsible when it comes to providing the best educational experiences for students. Schools and school districts have the option of educating safe media usage as well as incorporating digital media into the classroom experience, thus preparing students for the literacy they will encounter in the future.
A cyberpsychology research study conducted by Australian researchers demonstrated that a number of positive psychological outcomes are related to Facebook use. These researchers established that people can derive a sense of social connectedness and belongingness in the online environment. Importantly, this online social connectedness was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety, and greater levels of subjective well-being. These findings suggest that the nature of online social networking determines the outcomes of online social network use.
Social networks are being used by activists as a means of low-cost grassroots organizing. Extensive use of an array of social networking sites enabled organizers of the 2009 National Equality March to mobilize an estimated 200,000 participants to march on Washington with a cost savings of up to 85% per participant over previous methods. The August 2011 England riots were similarly considered to have escalated and been fuelled by this type of grassroots organization.
A rise in social network use is being driven by college students using the services to network with professionals for internship and job opportunities. Many studies have been done on the effectiveness of networking online in a college setting, and one notable one is by Phipps Arabie and Yoram Wind published in Advances in Social Network Analysis. Many schools have implemented online alumni directories which serve as makeshift social networks that current and former students can turn to for career advice. However, these alumni directories tend to suffer from an oversupply of advice-seekers and an undersupply of advice providers. One new social networking service, Ask-a-peer, aims to solve this problem by enabling advice seekers to offer modest compensation to advisers for their time. LinkedIn is also another great resource. It helps alumni, students and unemployed individuals look for work. They are also able to connect with others professionally and network with companies.
In addition, employers have been found to use social network sites to screen job candidates.
A social network hosting service is a web hosting service that specifically hosts the user creation of web-based social networking services, alongside related applications.
A social trade network is a service that allows traders of financial derivatives such as contracts for difference or foreign exchange contracts to share their trading activity via trading profiles online. There services are created by financial brokers.
Few social networks charge money for membership. In part, this may be because social networking is a relatively new service, and the value of using them has not been firmly established in customers' minds. Companies such as Myspace and Facebook sell online advertising on their site. Their business model is based upon large membership count, and charging for membership would be counterproductive. Some believe that the deeper information that the sites have on each user will allow much better targeted advertising than any other site can currently provide. In recent times, Apple has been critical of the Google and Facebook model, in which users are defined as product and a commodity, and their data being sold for marketing revenue. Social networks operate under an autonomous business model, in which a social network's members serve dual roles as both the suppliers and the consumers of content. This is in contrast to a traditional business model, where the suppliers and consumers are distinct agents. Revenue is typically gained in the autonomous business model via advertisements, but subscription-based revenue is possible when membership and content levels are sufficiently high.
People use social networking sites for meeting new friends, finding old friends, or locating people who have the same problems or interests they have, called niche networking. More and more relationships and friendships are being formed online and then carried to an offline setting. Psychologist and University of Hamburg professor Erich H. Witte says that relationships which start online are much more likely to succeed. In this regard, there are studies which predict tie strength among the friends on social networking websites. Witte has said that in less than 10 years, online dating will be the predominant way for people to start a relationship. One online dating site claims that 2% of all marriages begin at its site, the equivalent of 236 marriages a day. Other sites claim one in five relationships begin online. Users do not necessarily share with others the content which is of most interest to them, but rather that which projects a good impression of themselves. While everyone agrees that social networking has had a significant impact on social interaction, there remains a substantial disagreement as to whether the nature of this impact is completely positive. A number of scholars have done research on the negative effects of Internet communication as well. These researchers have contended that this form of communication is an impoverished version of conventional face-to-face social interactions, and therefore produce negative outcomes such as loneliness and depression for users who rely on social networking entirely. By engaging solely in online communication, interactions between communities, families, and other social groups are weakened.
Spamming on online social networks is quite prevalent. A primary motivation to spam arises from the fact that a user advertising a brand would like others to see them and they typically publicize their brand over the social network. Detecting such spamming activity has been well studied by developing a semi-automated model to detect spams. For instance, text mining techniques are leveraged to detect regular activity of spamming which reduces the viewership and brings down the reputation (or credibility) of a public pages maintained over Facebook. In some online social networks like Twitter, users have evolved mechanisms to report spammers which has been studied and analyzed.
Privacy concerns with social networking services have been raised growing concerns among users on the dangers of giving out too much personal information and the threat of sexual predators. Users of these services also need to be aware of data theft or viruses. However, large services, such as Myspace and Netlog, often work with law enforcement to try to prevent such incidents. In addition, there is a perceived privacy threat in relation to placing too much personal information in the hands of large corporations or governmental bodies, allowing a profile to be produced on an individual's behavior on which decisions, detrimental to an individual, may be taken. Furthermore, there is an issue over the control of data and information that was altered or removed by the user may in fact be retained and passed to third parties. This danger was highlighted when the controversial social networking site Quechup harvested e-mail addresses from users' e-mail accounts for use in a spamming operation.
In medical and scientific research, asking subjects for information about their behaviors is normally strictly scrutinized by institutional review boards, for example, to ensure that adolescents and their parents have informed consent. It is not clear whether the same rules apply to researchers who collect data from social networking sites. These sites often contain a great deal of data that is hard to obtain via traditional means. Even though the data are public, republishing it in a research paper might be considered invasion of privacy.
Privacy on social networking sites can be undermined by many factors. For example, users may disclose personal information, sites may not take adequate steps to protect user privacy, and third parties frequently use information posted on social networks for a variety of purposes. "For the Net generation, social networking sites have become the preferred forum for social interactions, from posturing and role playing to simply sounding off. However, because such forums are relatively easy to access, posted content can be reviewed by anyone with an interest in the users' personal information". The UK government has plans to monitor traffic on social networks. As well, schemes similar to e-mail jamming have been proposed for networks such as Twitter and Facebook. These would involve "friending" and "following" large numbers of random people to thwart attempts at network analysis. Privacy concerns have been found to differ between users according to gender and personality. Women are less likely to publish information that reveals methods of contacting them. Personality measures openness, extraversion, and conscientiousness were found to positively affect the willingness to disclose data, while neuroticism decreases the willingness to disclose personal information.
Through data mining, companies are able to improve their sales and profitability. With this data, companies create customer profiles that contain customer demographics and online behavior. A recent strategy has been the purchase and production of "network analysis software". This software is able to sort out through the influx of social networking data for any specific company. Facebook has been especially important to marketing strategists. Facebook's controversial "Social Ads" program gives companies access to the millions of profiles in order to tailor their ads to a Facebook user's own interests and hobbies. However, rather than sell actual user information, Facebook sells tracked "social actions". That is, they track the websites a user uses outside of Facebook through a program called Facebook Beacon.
There has been a trend for social networking sites to send out only "positive" notifications to users. For example, sites such as Bebo, Facebook, and MySpace will not send notifications to users when they are removed from a person's friends list. Likewise, Bebo will send out a notification if a user is moved to the top of another user's friends list but no notification is sent if they are moved down the list. This allows users to purge undesirables from their list extremely easily and often without confrontation since a user will rarely notice if one person disappears from their friends list. It also enforces the general positive atmosphere of the website without drawing attention to unpleasant happenings such as friends falling out, rejection and failed relationships.
Access to information
See also: Unauthorized access in online social networks
Many social networking services, such as Facebook, provide the user with a choice of who can view their profile. This is supposed to prevent unauthorized users from accessing their information. Parents who want to access their child's MySpace or Facebook account have become a big problem for teenagers who do not want their profile seen by their parents. By making their profile private, teens can select who may see their page, allowing only people added as "friends" to view their profile and preventing unwanted viewing of the profile by parents. Most teens are constantly trying to create a structural barrier between their private life and their parents. To edit information on a certain social networking service account, the social networking sites require you to log in or provide a password. This is designed to prevent unauthorized users from adding, changing, or removing personal information, pictures, or other data.
Impact on employability
Social networking sites have created issues among getting hired for jobs and losing jobs because of exposing inappropriate content, posting photos of embarrassing situations or posting comments that contain potentially offensive comments (e.g., racist, homophobic or defamatory comments), or even political comments that are contrary to those of the employer. There are works which recommend friends to social networking users based on their political opinions. Many people use social networking sites to express their personal opinions about current events and news issues to their friends. If a potential applicant expresses personal opinions on political issues or makes potentially embarrassing posts online on a publicly available social networking platform, employers can access their employees' and applicants' profiles, and judge them based on their social behavior or political views. According to Silicon Republic's statistics, 17,000 young people in six countries were interviewed in a survey. 1 in 10 people aged 16 to 34 have been rejected for a job because of comments made on an online profile. This shows the effects that social networks have had on people's lives. There have been numerous cases where employees have lost jobs because their opinions represented their companies negatively. In September 2013, a woman got fired over Facebook because she posted disruptive information about her company stating that military patrons should not receive special treatment or discounts. A manager of the company found her opinion online, disagreed with it, and fired her because it went against the company's mission statement. In November 2012, a woman posted a racist remark about the President of the United States and mentioned a possible assassination. She lost her job, and was put under investigation by the Secret Service.
Not only have employees lost their jobs in the United States, but it has happened with social network users internationally. In April 2011, a Lloyd's banking group employee in the United Kingdom was fired for making a sarcastic post about the higher salary of her boss in relation to hers. In February 2013 there was another case where a flight attendant working for a Russian airline lost her job because she posted a photo of herself giving the middle finger to a plane full of passengers. The photo went viral exposing it all over the Internet. In November 2009, a woman working for IBM in Quebec, Canada, lost her company's health insurance benefits because she posted photos displaying her mental health problem. The company decided to cut her benefits because it was costing them additional funds.
Cases like these have created some privacy implications as to whether or not companies should have the right to look at employees' social network profiles. In March 2012, Facebook decided they might take legal action against employers for gaining access to employee's profiles through their passwords.
The Impact of Online Social Networks Essay
999 Words4 Pages
Twitter, Skype, Facebook these are just a few of the online social networks we utilize day to day, which has made connecting to others easier than before. A social network is a structure made up of individuals or organizations that are tied by one or more specific types of relationships such as friendships. Although traditionally operated with person to person contact, it is now more popular online through social media networks such as Facebook and Skype. There are millions of persons with wide ranges of personalities who are looking to develop new friendships or to simply become a part of a group in order to share information on these websites. As of July 2011, Facebook which continues to be the most popular social network had 750 million…show more content…
Online Social Networks has positively affected the social life of people in many ways and will only continue to do so. Facebook, Myspace and other such websites allow persons to express themselves and sometimes bring about confidence in those shy, low self-esteem individuals; it gives them a sense of belonging and worth as they are being exposed to more tools to develop their social skills. ‘The truth about profiting from Social Networking’ by Rutledge gives ways in which social networking websites may help to build your life, as many of these websites are used to develop relationships and has changed dramatically the way people now network. Many persons have become dependable on these networks as it is now through these websites that the majority of young people keep “up-to-date” with the latest happenings and trends in their society.
Different cultures are also brought together on these websites as millions of persons from around the world connect and interact, cultural exchange can then occur. New friends are made, ideas are exchanged and everlasting bonds are created. When searching or adding friends on online social networks, the option to search by race is not usually present, when one of the main purposes of social networks are for people to interact and keep connected and as such we are introduced to people of the same