Gb86’s Weblog


Social Networking
November 15, 2008, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Social Networking is something that near enough everybody takes a part in these days.  With sites like “Myspace”, “Facebook” and “Bebo” everyone can make a profile and log on to view what their friends are up to.  Making a profile on sites like these is very simple, all you need is a valid email address and your already on your way!

socialnetworking

Social Networking sites focus on building online communities of people who share the same interests and activities, or they focus on people who are interested in the activities of others.  Most, if not all Social Networking sites are web based so that they can provide a way of communicating with each other either via email or a built in chat system.

Social Networking has created new ways to communicate and share information, websites like these are being used regularly by millions of people, and it now seems that Social Networking will be an enduring part of everyday life.  The main types of Social Networking services are those which contain directories of some categories (such as former classmates), means to connect with friends and recommended systems linked to trust.  Popular methods now combine many of these, with “MySpace” and “Facebook” being the most widely used.

 

popular_social_networking_a

 http://www.masternewmedia.org/learning_educational_technologies/social-networking/social-networking-in-education-survey-on-new-generations-social-creative-and-interconnected-lifestyles-NSBA-20071109.htm, November 9, 2007

The image above shows the main uses of Social Networking sites.  As you can see the main uses are downloading and uploading music and videos and messaging services, with quizzes being the least used service on such sites. 

Early social networking websites included “Classmates.com” (1995), focusing on ties with former school mates, and “SixDegrees.com” (1997), focusing on indirect ties.  User profiles could be created, messages sent to users held on a “friends list” and other members could be sought out who had similar interests to yours in their profiles.  Whilst these features had existed in some form before “SixDegrees.com” came about, this would be the first time these functions were available in one package.  Despite these new developments (that would later catch on and become immensely popular), the website simply wasn’t profitable and eventually shut down.  It was even described by the website’s owner as “simply ahead of its time.”  Two different models of Social Networking that came about in 1999 were trust-based, developed by “Epinions.com”, and friendship-based, such as those developed by Jonathan Bishop and used on some regional UK sites between 1999 and 2001.  Innovations included not only showing who is “friends” with whom, but giving users more control over content and connectivity.  Between 2002 and 2004, three social networking sites emerged as the most popular form of these sites in the world, causing such sites to become part of mainstream users globally. First there was “Friendster” (which Google tried to acquire in 2003), then “MySpace” and finally “Bebo”.  By 2005 “MySpace” emergent as the biggest of them all, was reportedly getting more page views than “Google”  and in 2004 saw the emergence of “Facebook”, a competitor, also rapidly growing in size.  In 2006, “Facebook” opened up to the non US college community, and together with allowing externally-developed add-on applications, and some applications enabled the graphing of a user’s own social network – thus linking social networks and social networking, became the largest and fastest growing site in the world, not limited by particular geographical followings.

Social Networking began to flourish as a component of business Internet strategy at around March 2005 when “Yahoo” launched “Yahoo! 360°”.  In July 2005 News Corporation bought “MySpace”, followed by “ITV” (UK) buying “Friends Reunited” in December 2005.  Various social networking sites have sprung up catering to different languages and countries.  It is estimated that combined there are now over 200 social networking sites using these existing and emerging social networking models, without counting the niche social networks (also referred to as vertical social networks) made possible by services such as “Ning” and “KickApps”.

Locked Keys

Many people say that Social Networking sites are unsafe and that it is very easy for you to become a victim of identity theft.  This is partly true but only if you give out certain information through the sites, for example, your email address could be used to hack into your account especially if you have other personal information on there as well in order for them to take over your account.  People can use your email address to pretend that they are you and pretend that they have forgotten their password.  All they need is your email address, your location and the answer to your secret question.  But for most people this is normally a very simple question to answer, such as your first school or first pet.    

The good points of using Social Networking sites such as these are that you can keep in contact with all your old friends from school, college, university or even just make friends with people you think sound interesting. 

People use sites like these to contact many people at once, for example a bulletin which gets sent out to everyone in their contact list.  This could be to invite them to a party or to tell them all something important.  Another good use of sites like these is to keep in contact with people who are all over the world, travelling for example, or if you have met people while away on holiday.  Another reason could be a college or university lecturer wanting to get in contact with their students to tell them about an important meeting or maybe to tell them that a lecture has been moved or cancelled.  Another good point about Social Networking sites is that you can build up a network of people who all share an interest in say, Film and TV, you can meet people who are friends with other people in that business and gain more knowledge and build up a vast number of contacts for future referencing. 

But to every upside there has to be a down.  There are also a number of bad points to using Social Networking sites.  People can pretend to be someone that they are not, people can access such sites from schools, colleges and the workplace meaning that they are not focusing on the task in hand.  People can use such sites to bully other people, for example making a profile in their name, pretending to be them and posting lots of bad photos, information and embarrassing stories about them.  People can easily sabotage other peoples homepages by hacking into them, from this they can go on to gain a lot of information about that person or just use it against them. 

Another bad point about Social Networking sites is that people can accept others as a friend even if they don’t actually like them, they may only be doing it so that they can be nosey and keep tabs on what they are doing and who they are talking to.  Many people also only add people as friends just because of the photos that they have up on their page.  They will have many photos of them wearing next to nothing so to attract a certain type of person. 

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