Online Social Networking… a Study of the Social Networking Phenomenon

Table of Content

Online Social Networks A study of the social networking phenomenon Yasmeen Bsaiso July 30th, 2008 QMIS 240 Dr. Hameed Al-Qaheri College of Business Administration Kuwait University Yasmeen Bsaiso QMIS/ 240 July 30th, 2008 Online Social Networks A study of the social networking phenomenon Social communication has always been a vital need to humanity. At its core, social communication did not change. People still exchange thoughts, feelings and news; however, the ways they socially communicate have radically changed. Online social networking is a recent form of social communication conducted over the internet.

It witnessed a huge growth since 1997 with the first social networking website SixDegrees. com (“Boyd”). Social networking websites provide a great socializing capability for their members. Primarily, they aim at connecting people with their acquaintances from all places, at all times. Such websites attract more than 1 billion users around the globe (“List of social networking websites”). Beside for personal use, social networking websites are used for e-marketing and legal investigations One of the most rapidly growing social networking sites is facebook. om, with more than 80 million users and a 270% growth rate from 2006 to 2007 (“To facebook or not to facebook”). It was founded by an American Harvard Student, Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. Huge acquisitions offers were proposed for facebook reaching as high as $1 billion. This big success may be attributed to facebook’s ease of use and unique socializing features. Despite the success of online social networking, many opponents find social networking websites as great source of discomfort and risk. Social networking may lead to psychological and financial problems.

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Facebook is faced with privacy-related, political and ethical criticisms. Through this research, the writer addresses the following topics: I. What is online social networking? II. What is an online social network? III. Benefits and applications of online social networking… A. for individuals B. for organizations IV. Facebook: an online society V. The growth of facebook A. The start of facebook B. The expansion of facebook VI. Why to use facebook VII. Facebook features VIII. How to use facebook IX. Shortcomings of online social networking X. Against facebook XI.

How to be safe with online social networking XII. Conclusion Online Social Networks A study of the social networking phenomenon Since the existence of humanity, social communication has been a genuine need. When people communicate, they exchange feelings, ideas and news. They may gesture, write or talk. Starting from the very preliminary communication techniques like smoke and pigeons, to the more developed such as the telegram and telephone, ending with the internet-based communication, social interaction techniques witnessed a big progress. The internet technology created many new communication means.

Today, we can send e-mails and instant messages. We can talk using the VOIP technology. One can write about his own thoughts and ideas and make others read them using online blogs. One of the recent ways of social communication over the internet is using social networking sites. Online social networking is a new social communication method that is spreading very widely. Today, there are more than hundred social networking sites with more than one billion users. These sites make communication easy, cheap and enjoyable. They are being used for personal and professional applications.

They keep members continuously connected to relatives, acquaintances and friends. They help people look for friends, be members in online groups and exchange ideas and opinions very easily. Plus, organizations can use these sites for better customer relationship management as well as supply chain management. Today, many organizations, like IBM, have their private social networking sites. Even legal systems use these sites to get evidence against prosecuted people. One of the most successful social networking sites is facebook. com. Facebook is the 2nd most trafficked social networking site.

It has more than 80 million active users and a 85% market share in among the 4-year university students in the USA (“Statistics”). Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, launched facebook in Februray 2004 with the assistance of his friends (“Mark Zuckerberg”). Since June 2004, with the initial investment of $500 thousand by PayPal co-founder, Peter Theil, facebook received many acquisition offers reaching more than $1 billion. Using facebook is very simple and easy. Facebook is very interactive and clean of spam. Facebook has many unique features that put him at the top of the successful social networking sites list.

These features are like the “Wall”, “News Feed”, “Videos”, and “Facebook Platform”. Facebook provides a great capability for customizing privacy options. To sign up for facebook, one should thirteen years old or above and should have an active e-mail address. By going to facebook homepage, facebook. com, and providing some basic personal information, the facebook account gets ready in less than a minute. Despite these great benefits and numerous applications of social networking sites, they face strong criticisms. Psychology specialists say that these sites make people disvalue their real lives and become aggressive.

Many identity theft cases happened through the illegal use of personal information available on the profiles of social networking sites’ members. Employers are using these sites to learn more about applicants. Many people are embarrassed and turned down by employers. Some people are concerned that these sites encourage lying and manipulation. Although, facebook offers many benefits for its users, it is intensely criticized as a not very safe website. Others dislike facebook because they believe Zuckergerg stole facebook code form his classmates. Some see some of facebook’s features as a violations for their privacy and comfort.

Finally, this research paper aims at clarifying how social networking has grown into a global phenomenon, revolutionizing the way we communicate and providing great benefits. To understand online social networking, some terms should be defined first. I. What is online social networking? Online Social Networking became a very common term today. Mainly, it refers to the use of a networking platform, whether the intranet, extranet, or internet, to create profiles, post them online, and share them among a social community. These profiles are networked with each other, so eligible users can view them together.

II. What is an online social network? Primarily, an online social network is a space on the internet where users can create online profiles and connect them to each other (Lenhart). An online profile is a document posted on a website, for others, to learn more about an individual or an organization (De Hoyos). As these profiles are linked to each other, eligible members can read each others’ profiles and exchange opinions. With an online social networking site, a network user builds his online community. Today, there are 126 social networking sites (“List of social networking websites”).

MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and Hi5 are few examples (“Social network service”). This social networking phenomenon is growing rapidly. In a worldwide scale, there are more than one billion users (“List of social networking websites”). In the Philippines, 83% of internet users have created social networking profiles (“How many global…”). “The number of social network users in five major Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico) more than doubled from January 2007 to January 2008 (“Number of Social…”). However, these users vary in how frequently they visit their social networking sites.

Almost half of the teenage users of social networking sites visit their online profiles once a day. While, “20% of them visit these sites every few weeks or less often”. This is to “both edit their own profiles and to view the profiles of others” (Lenhart). III. Benefits and applications of online social networking… A. for individuals “Social networking has revolutionized the way we communicate” with our relatives, friends and acquaintances (“Social network service”). They create channels through which people can invest their energies for giving and socializing (“Social Networks for social good”).

They can build new relationships and maintain their old ones with their acquaintances, especially those who share their interests and activities, and those who they rarely see (“Lenhart”). Also, they can exchange opinions, thoughts and ideas. With a growing social network, one gets to know his acquaintance’s friends, expanding his online community and the communities of others. As psychology experts say, social networking is a great technology for people to build a positive self-image and make themselves famous (“Online Social Networking Dangers…”).

A good question to ask here is, ‘How do social networking sites provide such benefits? ’ To find friends, a social networking site enables users to search for others by using their names. Unless the user signs up using his real name, he will not be identified by others. Consequently, people cannot find him, and he will not benefit from his registration to such sites. Social networking users can post messages and attach URL addresses of sites of interest on their profiles. Being a friend of someone, gives you the right to read his profile and posts, watch the videos and photos he uploads to his profile, and play games with him.

Increasingly, social networking users are creating online groups. These groups aim at promoting interests and ideologies. People can invite each other to be members in online groups. Most social networking sites offer an e-mail service, to send and receive e-mail messages. B. for organizations The benefits of social networking are not limited to individuals. Today, they are being increasingly used by businesses. Social networking is a very efficient and inexpensive communication technology within the organization, as well as with external partners.

Through providing a social network for its employees, a firm makes a big step towards building strong relationships amongst them. Social networks can be a great method for breaking hierarchical barriers among employees and creating a peaceful, collaborative environment. On top of that, social networks can be used to exchange ideas about the organization’s business processes and products amongst the employees. They may be used to keep everyone updated about the organization’s recent news. Social “networking sites function as online meeting places for business and industry professionals”(“Social networks for social good”).

For example, IBM launched a social network for its employees called “Beehive” to create a whole new culture of innovation and team-work. Today, 85% of IBM’s employees use “Beehive” (“Social networks for social good”). Besides, social networking can used to communicate with external partners like suppliers, distributors and customers. They help the organization be accessible to the outside environment instantly which leads to smarter decisions, faster responses and more adaptive processes. It is an intelligent tool for better supply chain management as well as customer relationship management.

Many businesses are using these sites to post their advertisements. (“Social networks for social good”). In the business world, such benefits can not be compromised! In addition to businesses, legal systems have used social networking sites. Information posted on such sites were used by police officials and courts to prosecute users and identify potential suspects. This happened with a MySpace user. Besides, some school administrations use social networking sites as a source of evidence against students who post unethical comments against their instructors or other students.

Many institutional and scientific organizations are using these site to post scientific information (“Social networks for social good”). IV. Facebook: an online society Amongst the hundred twenty-six public social networking sites available today on the internet, facebook is becoming the most rapidly and widely growing site. According to comScore, facebook is the second most trafficked social site and the sixth most trafficked website in the world. “Facebook maintains 85 % market share of 4-year US universities” (“Statistics”).

Plus, facebook is the second most popular thing among undergraduates today (“What is facebook? ”). It is of a net value of $1. 5 billion. This flourishing social networking site was started by the American, Mark Zuckerberg, and three of his friends from Harvard University (“What is facebook? ”). In a two-week time, two-thirds of the university’s students signed up for facebook (“Mark Zuckerberg”). Eighteen months later, in 2006, facebook became a public social networking site. Many companies proposed for buying facebook, like Google and Yahoo, with offers reaching as high as $1 billion. Yet, Zuckerberg did not accept!

What may justify this huge success of facebook, is its unique features like the “Wall”, “News Feed”, “Facebook Platform” and big profile capacity (“What is facebook? ”). Facebook users can post photos, videos, URL links and many other things on their profiles. They can join groups, play games and send gifts. Facebook allows its users to choose their privacy settings. This gives them control and comfort. Using facebook is very simple and easy. On top of this, facebook is free! All is needed to join facebook is a valid e-mail address and a subscriber of thirteen years old or above (“What is facebook? ). A lot of criticism is directed towards facebook for privacy, ethical and political reasons. Some experts say that facebook is not safe. According to ‘Click’, a BBC technology program, “personal details of Facebook users and their friends could be stolen by submitting malicious applications”. In 2007, facebook announced Facebook Beacon, which allows commercial sites to post what a facebook user bought from them on his profile. Some facebook users criticized Beacon. Many people do not like others to trace their purchases. There are things that one buys and does not like others to know about. “What is facebook? ”). Besides, facebook is abandoned in some countries for political reasons. It was blocked in Syria, Iran and other countries for the fear of organizing opposition movements (“What is facebook? ”). Ethical lawsuits were charged against Zuckerberg, facebook founder, prosecuting him for stealing intellectual property (“What is facebook? ”). Other criticisms will be addressed later in this paper. But now, let’s build a clear picture about facebook. What is facebook? Facebook is a social networking site for members to contact with their acquaintances through creating and sharing online profiles.

Facebook users can look for friends, make new relationships and be members in groups. Mainly, facebook is a way to build one’s online community. Facebook founder A twenty-year old university student, Mark Zuckerberg, founded Facebook with the assistance of some of his friends. Zuckerberg was born in May 14, 1984 for an American Jewish family. He was raised in New York. In his senior year, at high school, both Microsoft and AOL recruited him, but he declined the offers aiming at attending Harvard (“Mark Zuckerberg”). At college, he had a few trials before launching facebook. One is called Coursematch. om, which allowed students to know who is registered in their classes. Then he came up with facemash. com for which the Harvard University Administrative Board charged him for violating intellectual privacy and intellectual property rules (“Mark Zuckerberg”). Zuckerberg was named as “the world’s youngest self-made billionaire” by Forbes. com (“Mark Zuckerberg”). In March 2008, he was ranked number 785 on Forbes rich list. His wealth comes form his 30% share in Facebook Incorporation. Today, Zuckerberg lives in a “‘one bedroom apartment with a mattress on the floor’ in San Francisco, California”! (“Mark Zuckerberg”). V. The growth of facebook

The start of facebook “Zuckerberg launched facebook from his Harvard dorm room on February 4, 2004” with the assistance of his friends Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes (“Mark Zuckerberg”). Initially, facebook was for Harvard Students, and in less than two weeks, two-thirds of the school students started using facebook. The expansion of facebook A. Expansion in member category A month later, in March 2004, facebook expanded to universities like Yale, Stanford and others. In September 2005, facebook expanded to reach high school students. After that, facebook became accessible to companies including Apple and Microsoft.

In September 6, 2006, facebook became a public social networking site (“What is facebook? ”). B. Expansion in financial value In June 2004, Zuckerberg and his friends moved to California. Zuckerberg thought he would return back to Harvard. Since that date, he had not. In California, they rented a small house which they considered their first office. During summer, Zuckerberg met Peter Theil, Co-founder of PayPal (“Mark Zuckerberg”) (What’s facebook? ”). Theil made an investment of $500,000 (“Peter Thiel”). Formally, facebook incorporation was launched in California in summer 2004 with the initial investment by Thiel.

In April 2005, Accel Partners invested $12. 7 million. Later, Greylock Partners invested $27. 5 million. “Microsoft announced on October 24, 2007 that it purchased a 1. 6% share of Facebook for $246 million” (“What is facebook? ”). In January 2008, Reuters[pic] reported that the Samwer brothers became facbeook’s strategic partners in Europe. The size of the stake has not been revealed yet (“Nicole”). Today Facebook Incorporation has seven buildings, five hundred employees and an estimated net worth of $1. 5 billion (“Mark Zuckerberg”). Facebook Incorporation received many acquisition offers.

In March 2006, Business Week reported that facebook declined a $750 million offer (“What is facebook? ”). In September 2006, Yahoo offered a $1 billion investment in facebook. Later, in September 2007, Google offered to buy a share in facebook. But, why is facebook turning these acquisition offers down? In July 2007, Zuckerberg announced, “We’re not really looking to sell the company…. It’s just not the core focus of the company” (qtd. in “What is facebook? ”). Facebook estimated that its revenues will reach as high as $1 billion in 2015, and thus they had an internally, agreed on acquisition offer of $ 8 billion. “What is facebook? ”). These very huge investments for facebook may be astonishing; however they are justifiable. As mentioned above, facebook is aiming at revenues as high as $1 billion in 2015. Facebook generates huge revenues from advertising. According to comScore, an internet marketing research company, “Facebook collects as much data from its visitors as Google and Microsoft” (“What is facebook? ”). That is why, such a site, with a great capability to learn about its visitors is of a great value. Remember, it is the information age! VI. Why to use facebook Facebook is a unique and special socializing network.

Using facebook provides great benefits for both individuals and organizations. It is very simple and interactive. “Facebook’s interface is clean, easy to use, well-ordered, and navigable. As a result, Facebook contains significantly less spam and immature content than MySpace (“Hotler”). For personal use, facebook enables users to enjoy their relationships. It helps them learn more about their friends and reconnect with old ones (“To Facebook or Not to Facebook”). It makes friends accessible all the time. It keeps them updated about each other’s news. On top of that facebook is very truthful.

Users can not lie about their identities. If they do, they will not be known and they will not benefit from their subscription to facebook. No one will be able to find them and add them as friends, nor will others identify who they really are from their false names. Rarely do we see strange, meaningless names as how on other sites. For businesses, facebook provides a huge exposure to a large market segment. Thus, using facebook for advertising helps cut costs and increase revenues. Almost 80 million users will see the advertisement (“Facebook Factsheet”). What a better advertising tool?

In addition, companies can use facebook to have an online profile, where consumers can post their comments about their products. Some companies use facebook as a socializing network for their employees. This helps build better relationships amongst them and thus increase harmony, collaboration and effectiveness. In short, the features facebook offers to its users are what makes it very interesting and effective. Now, what are these features? VII. Facebook features Many social networking sites are available today on the internet. Between hundred and twenty six sites, few only are very famous.

Facebook is one of the most famous social networking sites around the globe. As mentioned previously, facebook is the second most trafficked social site. The question is: Why? The easy-to-use, attractive and various features of facebook made this possible (“Statistics”). So, what are these features? 1. Address Book After registration, users can use their address book of the e-mail they used for registration Facebook automatically lists who is registered for facebook so the user can start sending friend invitations easily (“How Online Social Networks Work? ”). 2. The “Wall” Probably, the “Wall” is the most interesting feature of facebook.

Mainly, the “Wall” is a space every facebook user gets upon registration. On this space, one can post his own thoughts, notes and comments. He can read the “Walls” of his friends. Also, friends can post comments on each others’ ” Walls” (“What is facebook? ”). 3. Various postings Users can upload videos on their walls. They can post an unlimited number of photos (“What is facebook? ”). According to comScore, facebook is the number one site for photo sharing application (“Statistics”). They can post attachments and URL addresses of sites of their interests for their friends to use. 4. News Feed On September 2006, a News-Feed was announced, which appears on every user’s homepage and highlights information including profile changes, upcoming events, and birthdays related to the user’s friends” (“What is facebook? ”). 5. Facebook Events This feature allows users to inform their friends about the upcoming events in which they are interested (“What is facebook? ”) . This helps everyone share important days and occasions. 6. Facebook Groups: Users can launch groups to gather those of similar interests (“How Online Social Networks Work? ”). Facebook has more than 6 million active user groups (“Statistics”). . Privacy Facebook gives its users a wide control. They can choose who can see what from their profile (Yarmosh). Also, they can control who can search for them, and how they can be reached. They can control what stories about them get published to their profiles and to their friends’ News Feeds. Besides, facebook allows users to block unwanted contacts. This means that those blocked will not be able to find them in a Facebook search, see their profiles, or interact with them through facebook (“Facebook Privacy”). 8. Photo Tagging Photo Tagging gives users “the ability to tag or label users in a photo”.

A user can post a tag on the photo of his friend. The tagged person receives a notification and the link to see the photo in which he was tagged (“What is facebook? ”). 9. Facebook Gifts Facebook gifts was launched in February 2007. Using this feature, users can send virtual gifts to their friends, each for $1. Also, senders can attach personal messages to their gifts. The recipient can see the gift on his profile (“What is facebook? ”). 10. Games Facebook allows its members to play games with each other like Scrabble and Chess (“What is facebook? ”). Friends can send invitations for each other to play games. 1. Facebook Marketplace This features allows users post advertisements for free. Facebook users only can see these advertisements (“What is facebook? ”). 12. Facebook Platform Facebook Platform allows developers to create new applications for facebook. “Using the Platform, Facebook launched several new applications, including Gifts…,Marketplace…, Events… and Video” (“What is facebook? ”). Facebook says that it has more than 40,000 developers and entrepreneurs. More than 24,000 applications were built on Facebook Platform in the average of 140 new applications every day.

These applications have been very successful that more than 95% of Facebook members use at least one of them (“Statistics”). VIII. How to use facebook Registering for a facebook identity is easy, simple and free! The only requirements are that the subscriber should be thirteen years old or above, and should have a valid e-mail address. When viewing facebook homepage, facebook. com, a registration form appears on the right of the page (“What is facebook? ”). The potential member will be asked to provide his full name, e-mail and password. Also, he will be asked to specify his gender and date of birth.

Clicking on the sign up button, the user will be taken to a new page where he is asked to provide some personal information about his educational level, school name and graduation year. Some of this further data is optional. Then, he clicks on sign up. At that time, the user will receive a confirmation request in the inbox of the e-mail address he provided upon registration. If confirmed, he can start personalizing his profile. He may start looking for friends. Facebook offers the new user to check the address book in his e-mail to identify those who are registered for facebook.

As the user accepts, he will be able to choose those who he likes to be his friends on facebook. When adding someone as a friend, facebook reminds the member that this added person will be able to see his profile. This is a good notification for enlightening people about their safety and privacy. To look for more friends, the member can use the ‘friend finder’ tool to look for others and invite them. He can “look for those who have similar interests” and invite them (“How Online Social Networks Work? ”). Plus, he may look for groups he is interested in and join them. A user may specify privacy options.

He can choose whether his personal information like date of birth and gender be revealed, and to whom this information can be revealed. IX. Shortcomings of online social networking Despite the great advantages social networking provides, its dangers should be considered. On the health side, many psychiatrists are concerned. Dr. Himanshu Tyagi, in the Royal College of Psychiatrists annual meeting, said that people who have an active online social life might disvalue their real lives. “Children growing up alongside the rise of social networking websites may have a potentially dangerous view of the world”.

They may see it as uninteresting and static. Other psychiatrists say that the reliance on online social networking for continuous communication exposes users to be hostile and even suicidal (“Mental risk’ of Facebook teens”). What makes these sites even more dangerous is that current psychiatrists are not capable of helping people with problems related to online social communication (“Mental risk’ of Facebook teens”). They may not be able to cure psychological problems caused by excessive online social networking like suicidal thoughts, social phobias, social networking addiction and other severe problems.

In addition, these sites are open for unlimited number of people exposing them to unlimited threats. Those who provide personal information on their profiles make their information available for more people than they imagine (“Online Social Networks”). This may explain why identity theft became very easy today. Mainly, “identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personal information, such as social security identification… to impersonate someone else” (Laudon 348). In 2002, 10 million American consumers were identity theft victims.

Seventy Percent of them reported their credits cards misused with an average loss of $10,000 (“Protecting Against Identity Theft”). Many people are concerned that social networking sites encourage lying. “More than half of teens post false information in online profiles” (Lenhart). Because of the huge openness of these sites, they are used for purposes other than socializing. Many employers use social networking sites to learn more about an applicant. Many people are being turned down by employers because of the inappropriate posts and images found in their profiles (“Online Social Networking Dangers…”). X. Against facebook

Despite the huge success and wide spread of facebook that almost 80 million people use it actively, others criticize it. This criticism is about privacy, political, ethical and other issues. Facebook was attacked several times for compromising users’ privacy and violating security terms. Some experts argue that allowing users to choose their privacy status exposes them to danger. Users should be automatically protected (“Facebook Security”). If not, they will be vulnerable to problems they may not be aware of. An experiment done by BBC TV revealed that, using a user’s birth date, it was possible to obtain personal information about her.

Then, they created an online bank account and a credit card using that information. The bank account and credit card were instantly ready for use. That is how her identity was stolen… only from her birth date! (“Facebook Security”). Some people say that facebook does not secure users’ profiles well. Once, seventy thousand facebook profiles were stolen by two students putting users at unexpectedly high risk (“What is facebook? ”). Another criticism is against facebook’s statement, “We may share your information with third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a relationship” (“What is facebook? ”).

Yet, Chris Hughes, facebook spokesperson, said, “We have never provided our users’ information to third party companies, nor do we intend to” (“What is facebook? ”). The News Feed feature was criticized as being unnecessary and trivial (“Mark Zuckerberg”). Some people say that the News Feed provides some private information to others. For example, one may receive a news feed saying that X made a relationship with Y. The problem is, do X and Y want others to know? (Cellan- Jones). That is why News Feed can be inappropriate and too inquisitive sometimes. For political reasons, facebook is abandoned in some countries like Syria and Iran.

The Syrian government fears that opposing movements were arranged on facebook. “The government also feared Israeli infiltration of Syrian social networks on Facebook” (“What is facebook? ”). In addition, facebook was criticized for ethical reasons. Some of Zuckerberg’s classmates say that he stole the source code they asked him to provide for developing their social networking site: Connect U (“What is facebook? ”). A lawsuit was charged against Zuckerberg. New York Times reported that “facebook was finalizing a settlement with the founders of Connect U” (“Bissonnette”).

Others say that “Zuckerberg might have taken many ideas for Facebook from Aaron J. Greenspan’s houseSYSTEM website” (“Mark Zuckerberg”). Obviously, there are strong reasons for those opposing facebook. XI. How to be safe with online social networking Social networking users may do many things to avoid unethical and illegal uses of their personal data, yet, there is no hundred percent safety. Before providing any personal information to any site, internet users must check the “lock” sign besides the URL of the website (“Protecting Against Identity Theft”). The best security method is simply not to post many personal information.

The fact that social networking depends on providing and sharing personal information does not mean providing any kind of personal information. Some personal information may be posted, however others can not be posted at all. A social networking user can post his first and second, or last name, his age and his e-mail address. Providing other personal information like telephone numbers, credit card information, social security numbers, car number and addresses exposes one to danger. It makes it easy for criminals to steal his identity. Thus, the best precaution is not to post such detailed personal information.

Also, many social networking sites, like facebook, allow its users to personalize their privacy settings. So, to be safe, one can choose what information can be revealed and to whom. In addition, users may secure their internet connection by using firewalls, anti-virus software and encryption technologies for a better protection against intruders and hackers. To know whether one’s information have be stolen or used for unauthorized applications on the internet, internet users can search for their names or other provided personal information on search engines like Google. com or Yahoo. com (“Online Social Networking Dangers and Benefits”).

Users should always remember that they are who their profiles say they are. XII. Conclusion The new revolutionary technologies and systems are changing our lives dramatically. For us, as human beings, socializing, building communities and working in teams are very important activities. Today, the ways we socialize, communicate and collaboratively work have changed. The most recent method for new socializing is online social networking. Online social networking refers to the use of networks, intranets, extranets or the internet, to exploit one’s or an organization’s socializing and communication activities.

More than one-sixth of the world population use online social networking. This technology made communication with a big number of friends easy, cheap and enjoyable. Users can be always connected to their friends. Plus, an organization can use a social networking site to build strong relationships amongst its employees and to stay connected with it external partners as well as customers. For the effectiveness and efficiency of social networking sites, they were utilized for several applications. Besides communicating with friends, social networking sites make it possible for individuals to be members in groups and learn more about the world.

Professionally, they are used by businesses, courts and schools adminstrations. Facebook, the second most trafficked social networking site is a good example of successful social networking sites. It is a “social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers” (“Facebook Factsheet”). Facebook story started in February 2004, when founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was a sophomore at Harvard University. Within almost fourteen days, two-third of Harvard students registered for facebook. com. In the following months, facebook expanded to many universities.

In September 2006, facebook became a public social networking site with two requirements only: a user of thirteen years old or above and a valid e-mail address. With the assistance of his classmates and the initial investment of Peter Theil, Zuckerberg launched Facebook Incorporation. For its huge and rapid growth, facebook received many investment and acquisition offers from large companies as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. These offers reached as high as $1 billion dollar. Yet, Zuckerberg says owners do not intend to sell facebook.

The benefits of using facebook are very close to those of using any other social networking sites, however facebook has its unique features. Its simple, yet attractive interface helps users enjoy interacting with friends. Facebook members can post various things on their “Walls”. They can receive instant news about their friends’ activities and they can customize their privacy options. Creating a membership at facebook is easy and quick. On the homepage of facebook, there is a registration form asking for preliminary personal information.

After creating the membership, the member can start to personalize his profile, find friends and join groups. This whole process does not take more than ten minutes. The great benefits and various applications of online social networking may be very impressive; however, we should consider its dangers, too. Social networking sites can be unhealthy. Also, many social networking sites are not secure enough. Providing personal information to such busy sites increases the possibility of risks like identity theft. Criminals use these sites to gather personal information about users and steal their identities for unethical or illegal purposes.

Many people are concerned that social networking encourages lying. Facebook is criticized for its poor privacy systems. It is abandoned in some countries because their governments fear organizing opposing movements on facebook. Zuckerberg was charged for stealing the code his friends asked him to provide for their social networking site. That is why some people find facebook as illegal. To enjoy the connectivity and unity of online social networking, members of social networking sites need to secure themselves. Safety lies in not providing excessive personal information.

That is the best precaution. They may customize their privacy options. Many sites give their member big control over their privacy, like facebook. Users should always remember that their profiles say who they are. They should not provide any information that would impose them to ethical or legal issues. Finally, social communication is very important and that may be the most powerful reason behind the growth of the social networking phenomenon. References Bissonnette, Zac. “Facebook to settle law suit on its origins. ” Blogging Stocks. 7 Apr. 2008. 21 July 2008 . Boyd, d. . , and Ellison, N. B “Social network sites: Definition,history, and scholarship. ” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13(1), article 11 . Cellan-Jones, Rory. “The etiquette of networking. ” BBC News. 6. June 2007. 6 July 2008 . De Hoyos, Brandon. “Profile. ” About. n. d. 15 July 2008 . “Facebook Factsheet. ” Facebook. n. d. 20 July 2008 . “Facebook Privacy. ” Facebook. n. d. 24 July 2008 . “Facebook Security. ” BBC. n. d. 6 July 2008 . Hotler, Eric. “Facebook Compared to MySpace. ” Web Smart Newsletter. Nov. 2007. 6 July 2008 . “To Facebook or Not to Facebook. Newfangled. Nov. 2007. 6 July 2008 < http://www. newfangled. com/benefits_of_facebook>. “How many global social network users are there? ” Linkedin. 12 June 2008. 11 July 2008 . “How Online Social Networks Work? ” Howstuffworks. n. d. 7 July 2008 . Laudon, Kenneth C. , and Jane P. Laudon. Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm.. 9th. USA: Pearson Education, Inc. , 2006. Lenhart, Amanda, Madden, Mary. “Teens, Privacy and Online Social Networks. How teens manage their online identities and personal information in the age of MySpace. Pew Internet and American Life Project. 18 Apr. 2007. 10 July 2008 . “List of social networking websites. ” Wikipedia. n. d. 15 July 2008 . “Mark Zuckerberg. ” Wikipedia. n. d. 6 July 2008 . “Mental risk’ of Facebook teens. ” BBC. n. d. 6 July 2008 . Nicole, Kristen. “Facebook Gets New Investors: Samwer Brothers for European Expansion. ” Mashable. 15 Jan. 2008. 23 July 2008 . “Number of Social-Network Users in Latin America Doubles in ‘07. ” Marketing Charts. n. d. 16 July 2008 . “Online Social Networks. ” University of Houston. n. d. 12 July 2008 . Online Social Networking Dangers and Benefits. ” University of the Pacific. n. d. 10 July 2008. . “Peter Thiel. ” Wikipedia. n. d. 20 July 2008 . “Protecting Against Identity Theft. ” University of the Pacific. n. d. 10 July 2008 . “Social network service. ” Wikipedia . n. d. 6 July 2008 . “Social Networks for Social Good. ” Wikipedia. n. d. 8 July 2008 . “Statistics”. Facebook. n. d. 20 July 2008 . “What’s facebook? ” Wikipedia . n. d. 6 July 2008 < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Facebook>. Yarmosh, Ken. “7 Reasons Why Facebook is Rocking. ” Technosight. 22 May 2007. 7 July 2008 .

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Online Social Networking… a Study of the Social Networking Phenomenon. (2018, Feb 06). Retrieved from

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