For our fifth essay, we were assigned to choose a Web 2.0 technology, and take on the job of educating others of this media. According to Tim O’Reilly “a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles, at a varying distance from the core.” In the last decade there have been many new social networking sites, but none has had the impact that Facebook has. According to Boyd and Ellison, a social networking site is a “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. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.” This is a dynamic definition, but it outlines the basic fundamentals of a social networking site. This allows the average people to create a profile for themselves, as well as interact with other friends on Facebook. Throughout this essay I will be explaining the background information about Facebook, who uses is, as well as its pros and its cons. Social networking sites like Facebook.com, have allowed people to connect, and has advanced the possibilities of networking through the Internet.
According to mashable.com, Facebook was created by a former Harvard student named Mark Zuckerberg. It was created as a site where fellow Harvard students could meet each other easier. As the site grew, Zuckerberg brought on Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Andrew McCullon, and Chris Hughs to help the expanding responsibilities. Since it became such a success he then expanded it to other Ivy League schools. Facebook then expanded the network and allowed every college to join, and now it is available to anyone with an email address over the age of 13. Barnes states “teenagers now use organized social Web sites to meet others and explore identity formation.” Recently there has been a surge of people joining over the age of 30. Techcrunch.com states that the age group of 35 plus has grown 98 percent from 2006 to 2007. Also, according to Facebook.com is now has over 120 million active users. As a frequent user of Facebook, I want to introduce you to some of the vast functions it provides. When first singing up for Facebook you create a basic profile for yourself, including information such as your gender, birthday, contact information, educational information, and even your relationship status. Then you start searching for your friends and sending them friend requests. This is used as a safety feature, and only the people you accept as your friends are allowed to view your profile. Facebook also allows you to upload pictures of yourself, and also allows people to tag pictures of you. There are many different features your profile has such as your “wall.” This is where your friends can come and write a little note on your profile. Today it is even possible to upload a video of yourself on your wall. This is bringing a whole new light on the way we can communicate over the internet. Facebook has things like the “mini feed,” which keeps you updates on things like friends tagged in pictures, new albums, new friends, and even ended relationships. You can join groups, send gifts, update your current status, play games, or even flirt with people by “poking” them. The features that Facebook has today are endless, even politicians have pages that allow the younger generations using this social networking site to associate with politicians.
There are many things that Facebook has brought to the table. First, it allows you to stay in touch with friends, and relatives across the country. You can even get in touch with old high school friends, or people you may not have been that close with. It allows you to form an informal relationship that might lead to further interactions. I check Facebook daily, and there are many times when I will think back to high school and pull a name out of a hat and friend them. That usually follows with a wall post something along the lines of “what’s up man, long time.” Facebook also makes promoting events easier. You can send out an invitation to your chosen friends with details about the occasion and the date and time. You can also respond to the invitation, so you can get an accurate number of people who will be attending. As well as invitations, you can now chat on Facebook. They have added an application that allows you to chat like an instant message with other friends that are logged onto Facebook. This is another stride that they have taken to attract more people. Facebook also allows you to create a profile that accurately depicts yourself. You can add your favorite quotes, movies, music, subjects, hometown, and high school. As a registered user of Facebook you almost create a snapshot of yourself that you want to present to others. Facebook also makes meeting people easier. It allows you to break the ice with a person that you know by saying hello through the computer. Facebook is even used in the workplace. At the conclusion of my summer internship the company created a group called Cushman & Wakefield Summer Intern Group so that we could all keep in contact. The company wanted their employees to build and form relationships outside the office, in order to work more efficiently. As I stated before, even the Presidential candidates have pages where they present their positions on the political issues. Teachers are even interacting with students through Facebook. I was sitting in a History class earlier and the teacher was requesting that if students have any questions please contact him through his Facebook page. It has become so easy to create a page that even teachers are breaching into this social networking world. The photo albums are a feature that has been with Facebook from the beginning. Facebook makes it extremely easy to upload albums, and tag people in the album. Speaking with a college senior at UAlbany, Shane Moriarty stated, “Since I live in Seattle, it’s tough to keep in touch with my friends. I really like that people can tag my friends in photos, which allows me to see them. Since I am not friends with a lot of the people from their school I would never be able to see the pictures.” Facebook has also now partnered with the company Research in Motion and created a Facebook application for BlackBerry users. You get alerts to your phone telling you when friends have confirmed you, or photos have been tagged of yourself. If you receive a message or even if someone writes on your wall you have the capability through your phone to write back. Facebook also has things like the friends you may know section, where is recommends people that are friends with a majority of your friends. This makes it easy to connect with those people you would not necessarily remember. Another application that Facebook has created is the marketplace. This is a place where people can go to search within their network for items to buy. Many people put up college textbooks, electronics, or even cars on the marketplace. It is almost like Facebook is trying to put AIM, EBay, and Flickr into one place.
There are also some negatives about Facebook. People are getting increasingly nervous of the things that are on their Facebook pages. Many times there are embarrassing pictures that become tagged or foolish wall posts written on your wall. With the amount of people over the age of 35 on Facebook, and the chance that your parents and relatives will create an account has created a large amount of anxiety for college students. Also, prospective companies are now looking at people Facebook pages and evaluating whether or not to hire the employee. There are many things that Facebook provides you so you can prevent these types of things. You can make your profile private so there is no wall on your page, and you can also make your pictures private so that no one can see them. Also if you choose to have pictures that are viewable, you can untag ones that you do not want to be publicly seen. Also, with the age necessary to register for a Facebook page being only thirteen, there are many people that are concerned with the issue of child predators. Parents should be increasingly concerned with the content that is on their children’s Facebook pages. Another concern for people, who are in relationships, is that fact that Facebook creates a lot of stress in the relationship. Many times you can be tagged in a picture with a person they do not know and this causes speculations of unfaithfulness. A lot of the time girlfriends can log onto their partners account and sift through their messages, and wall posts. The “news feed” also allows someone to really keep a tab of what you are doing. It tells people what events you have responded yes to, or new friends you have, or even whose wall you have written on. This is another concern with many people, but Facebook has provided a feature that allows you to turn off you “news feed.”
In the last decade there have been major advances in the world of social networking sites. Web 2.0 technologies such as Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook were created. All of these different sites bring something to the table, but my opinion Facebook takes the cake. There is no other site that combines so many different aspects into one like Facebook does. Facebook has allowed people to expand the relationships that they have, as well as create new bonds with people they might never have spoken too. There are so many positive things that Facebook has to offer; that I believe it is one of the most influential sites on the World Wide Web. There are certainly many concerns that people will have, but Facebook is doing the best they can to create a safe, healthy social networking site. Facebook.com has allowed people to connect, and has advanced the possibilities of networking through the Internet.
Barnes. Susan B. (2006). A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States. First Monday, 11. Retrieved on August 21, 2009 from http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_9/barnes/index.html.