Social networking overview

History of Social networking

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.

Facebook was first introduced (in 2004) as a Harvard social networking site, expanding to other universities and eventually, anyone.

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Social impact

Web-based social networking services make it possible to connect people who share interests and activities across political, economic, and geographic borders.

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.

Social networks are providing a different way for individuals to communicate digitally.

50% of British employers banned the use of social networking sites/services during office hours.

Typical features

A profile is generated from answers to questions, such as age, location, interests, etc.  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.

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Additional features

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

Emerging trends

Real-time allows users to contribute contents, which is then broadcast as it is being uploaded – similar to live radio and TV.

Twitter set the trend for “real-time” services, within a 140-character limit.

Facebook followed suit with their “Live Feed” where users’ activities are streamed as soon as it happens.

In April 2012, the image-based social media network Pinterest had become the third largest social network in the United States.

LinkedIn is closely tied to individual networking relationships based on social networking principles.

Companies have found that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to build their brand image (reputation management).

As of September 2013, 71% of online adults use Facebook, 17% use Instagram, 21% use Pinterest, and 22% use LinkedIn.

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Social networks and science

LinkedIn and Facebook 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”.

Social networks and education

The use of online social networks by school libraries is also increasing, being used to communicate with potential library users, as well as extending the services provided by individual school libraries.

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Learning uses within education

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.

Students who would not normally participate in class are more apt to partake through social network services.

It has been claimed that media no longer just influence our culture. They are our culture. With such a high number of users between the ages of 13-18, a number of skills are developed.

Constraints of social networking services in education

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.

Cyberbullying has become an issue of concern with social networking services, often including a lot of personal information posted publicly, and many believe that sharing personal information is a window into privacy theft.

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 from schools 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.

Schools 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.

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Positive correlates of social media use

A cyberpsychology research study conducted by Australian researchers demonstrated that a number of positive psychological outcomes are related to Facebook use, establishing 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 wellbeing.

Social networks and grassroots organizing

Social networks are being used by activists; as a means of low-cost grassroots organizing.

The August 2011 England riots were considered to have escalated and been fuelled by this type of grassroots organization.

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Social networks and employment

A final rise in social network use is being driven by college students using the services to network with professionals for internship and job opportunities.

Business model

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.

Facebook sells 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 interaction

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.

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.

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.

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Privacy

Privacy concerns with social networking services have been raised growing concerns amongst 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.

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—information that was altered or removed by the user may in fact be retained and passed to third parties.

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.

Women are less likely to publish information that reveals methods of contacting them. Personality measures opennessextraversion, and conscientiousness were found to positively affect the willingness to disclose data, while neuroticism decreases the willingness to disclose personal information

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Data mining

Through data mining, companies are able to improve their sales and profitability.

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.

Notifications on websites

There has been a trend for social networking sites to send out only “positive” notifications to users. For example sites such as Facebook will not send notifications to users when they are removed from a person’s friends 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.

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Access to information

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 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 you need to login or provide a password.

This is deigned 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.

This is controversial because employers can access their employee’s profiles, and judge them based on their social behavior.

1 in 10 people aged 16 to 34, have been rejected for a job because of comments on an online profile.

Cases like these have created some privacy implications re unauthorized access.

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Unauthorized access

There are different forms where user data in social networks are accessed and updated without a user’s permission.

One study[99] highlighted that the most common incidents included inappropriate comments posted on social networking sites (43%), messages sent to contacts that were never authored (25%) and change of personal details (24%). The most incidents are carried out by the victim’s friends (36%) or partners (21%) and one in ten victims say their ex-partner has logged into their account without prior consent.

The survey found that online social network accounts had been subject to unauthorised access in 60 million cases in 2011.

Risk for child safety

Overuse of social networking may also make children more susceptible to depression and anxiety.

A certain number of actions have been engaged by governments to better understand the problem and find some solutions.

In May 2010, a child pornography social networking site with hundreds of members was dismantled by law enforcement. It was deemed “the largest crimes against children case brought anywhere by anyone”.

Girls in particular are also known to be at more of a risk online using social networks than boys – because they often manipulate other users online by making themselves look older than what they actually appear which can attract sexual predators.

Social networking can also be a risk to child safety in another way; parents can get addicted to games and neglect their children. One instance in South Korea resulted in the death of a child from starvation.

Law enforcement agencies have published articles with their recommendations to parents about their children’s use of social networking sites.

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Trolling

A common misuse of social networking sites such as Facebook is that it is occasionally used to emotionally abuse individuals. Such actions are often referred to as trolling. Trolling can occur in many different forms, such as (but not limited to) defacement of deceased person(s) tribute pages, name calling, playing online pranks on volatile individuals and controversial comments with the intention to cause anger and cause arguments.

Online bullying

Online bullying, also called cyber-bullying, is a relatively common occurrence and it can often result in emotional trauma for the victim. Depending on the networking outlet, up to 39% of users admit to being “cyber-bullied”.

There are not many limitations as to what individuals can post when online. Individuals are given the power to post offensive remarks or pictures that could potentially cause a great amount of emotional pain for another individual.

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Interpersonal communication

Many teens and social networking users may be harming their interpersonal communication by using sites such as Facebook.

And there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed–and only for the parts we find useful, comforting, or amusing”.

Furthermore, social network sites can create insincere friendships.

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Psychological effects of social networking

As social networking sites have risen in popularity over the past years, people have been spending an excessive amount of time on the Internet in general and social networking sites in specific.

This has led researchers to debate the establishment of Internet addiction as an actual clinical disorder.

Social networking can also affect the extent to which a person feels lonely, providing people with a false sense of connection that ultimately increases loneliness in people who feel alone”.

Worker’s rights

Companies are concerned with the potential damage comments online can do to public image due to their visibility and accessibility,

Virtual identity suicide

There is a growing number of social network users who decide to quit their user account by committing a so-called virtual identity suicide or Web 2.0 suicide.

The number one reason for these users was privacy concerns (48%), being followed by a general dissatisfaction with the social networking website (14%), negative aspects regarding social network friends (13%) and the feeling of getting addicted to the social networking website (6%).

Facebook quitters were found to be more concerned about privacy, more addicted to the Internet and more conscientious.

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Dating applications

Many social networks provide an online environment for people to communicate and exchange personal information for dating purposes.

Most of these social networks, just like online dating services, require users to give out certain pieces of information.

However, an important difference between social networks and online dating services is the fact that online dating sites usually require a fee, where social networks are free.

Breaking up

Breaking-up with a significant other is never easy to do, and new technologies are starting to make the process easier, but also less personal. Sites such as Facebook are becoming increasingly popular tools for methods of ending relationships, proving that although new media is being used as a tool for connecting with individuals, it is now creating new problems associated with disconnecting from others.

The problem with that is that you are left with no closure and the entire online world now knows you are no longer in a relationship.

If someone breaks-up with you, you can actively choose what “face” you want to present to your friends, including your ex. Even though you may be absolutely heartbroken within, Facebook allows you to hide your true feelings from the online world, and from your ex, by manipulating your profile.

Many people find that the only way to really move on from a past relationship is to cut the person out of their life completely. Social media has made this process much more complicated and difficult, this content can still remain online.

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Investigations

Social networking services are increasingly being used in legal and criminal investigations; information posted on sites such as Facebook has been used by police (forensic profiling), probation, and university officials to prosecute users.

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Business applications.

Social networks connect people at low cost; this can be beneficial for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to expand their contact bases.

Since businesses operate globally, social networks can make it easier to keep in touch with contacts around the world.

Financial currency

The use of virtual currency systems inside social networks create new opportunities for global finance.

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Medical and health applications

A new trend is emerging with social networks created to help its members with various physical and mental ailments. For people suffering from life altering diseases, offers its members the chance to connect with others dealing with similar issues and research patient data related to their condition.

For alcoholics and addicts, SoberCircle gives people in recovery the ability to communicate with one another and strengthen their recovery through the encouragement of others who can relate to their situation.

Support groups offer a wide array of topics and conditions,

encouraging healthy lifestyles in their users, peer support during weight loss, focused on exercise, enabling users to share their own workouts and comment on those of other users.

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Social and political applications

Social networking sites have recently showed a value in social and political movements. In the Egyptian revolutionFacebook and Twitter both played an allegedly pivotal role in keeping people connected to the revolt.

On the flip side, social networks enable government authorities to easily identify, and repress, protestors and dissidents

Crowdsourcing applications

Crowdsourcing process is often used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise startup companies and charities, and can also occur offline.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking_service#Social_impact

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