Tag Archives: Social Networking

The Social Network

** The statistics are from Pew Research Center’s Internet& American Life Social Network Site
Is reading Twitter one of the first things you do in the morning? Updating a Facebook status a “oh-so-very-important thing” in the to-do list of your day? Remember the last time you spent a day without these Social Networking Sites (SNS) being an essential element? No? Well you are not alone! Studies have shown that the number of the people who are using the SNS have doubled since 2008.Started as an easy way to communicate and “stay-in-touch”, these SNS have accelerated towards transmogrifying our lives. Social sites have had a great impact on not only the current generation but also anyone who feels the need to be in touch with his dearies and keep them updated. And when you are not chatting , you can pick from the plethora of games ! Communication eased, fun multiplied –these SNS come with a complete package! Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn are dominating our lives like nothing else before!
Facebook is the universal social networking site and I hs the highest share of user’s daily visit. Facebook dominates the SNS space in this survey**: 92% of SNS users are on Facebook; 29% use MySpace, 18% used LinkedIn and 13% use Twitter.
There is considerable variance in the way people use various social networking sites: 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with the platform daily, while only 7% of MySpace and 6% of LinkedIn users do the same.
SNS provide an opportunity to the user of “friending” people. That friend might be a” traditional “ friend or an old acquaintance from school or very casual connection between people who have never really met in person. This sparks off the debate that whether these SNS have made the people more isolated from the “real world” and demeaned the social relations or are they helping in expanding and enriching a person’s social circle?
According to sources ** internet users average 14% more discussion confidants than non-users. Those who use instant messaging service average 12% more core confidants than other internet users or 25% more than non-internet users.
The use of SNS in general was not found to have a negative relationship with the number of overall close ties. However frequent users of Facebook have larger core networks . For eg, someone who uses Facebook a few times per day tend to have about 9% more strong ties.
The largest single group of Facebook friends consists of people from high school(22%) followed by extended family (12%) , coworkers(10%) ,college(9%),immediate family(8%). A very small no. of Facebook friends are people that we might refer to as strangers. The average Facebook user has never met in in person with 7% of their Facebook friends. Additional 3% are the ones they have only met once .
While most of the people only let a very small have a very small number of people in the list of their close social ties, a large section maintain these using SNS . 40% of SNS users have friended all of their core confidants ,an increase from 29% in 2008.
The numbers do tell us a story, but the story of this SNS experience is best told by “us” , who are the part of this phenomenon. It has affected our lives in more ways than one .Effortless communication and not just that remember the ecstasy of finding a long lost friend or the joy of sharing pictures and enjoying those sweet old memories!
SNS also provides a huge marketing platform. Be it celebs or social activists, everyone is hopping in the SNS bandwagon. More people are reached, more ideas conveyed, more messages delivered, more memories relived , more products marketed ! There is something for everyone !!! It is impossible to not come something interesting or informative on the social media. It has also steered the way for a newer revenue opportunities.
Social media has benefitted almost everyone who has been careful enough to walk on the safer paths of internet usage. These social networks have their own shades of white and grey, but our world would never be the same without them !!! 

Will the Facebook IPO Ruin Facebook?

With Facebook’s IPO today, the big question has been how Facebook is going to raise revenue to fit with stock valuation. There are several options, and many of them involve more ads: pushing more ads onto mobile interfaces, more ads in general, more narrowly targeted ads, more back-end data sales, further expanding Facebook Connect, and further expanding Facebook Payment. In all, though, I think Facebook’s best option is to reconcile revenue and valuation the other way around. Don’t raise revenue to fit with valuation. Instead, let the bubble burst.

So much of Facebook’s success has to do with network effects, not with the quality of the site itself. Just as a telephone represents little value to you until and unless people you want to talk to have telephones as well, so too Facebook is valuable to users primarily because a great many other users are also there. Now, surely, there are things Facebook could do that would drive more users away, and there are things that Facebook has done very well, but for the most part we go to the site because of network value (we want to talk with our friends and share pictures with family), not because of intrinsic value (the site itself is good per se).

This gives Facebook something of the character of a utility. We just want it to work, and for the company itself to be as unobtrusive as possible. The only good conversation with your cable provider is no conversation. Nobody likes thinking about their phone plan.

Facebook’s encroachment into the user experience and into user data is precarious, and perhaps already overextended. If Facebook were one site among many, from which we could freely choose what we preferred, there would be little issue with cutting new bargains with users—but the fact that what Facebook primarily offers to the user is nothing other than its own wide adoption means that it has a de facto monopoly. So if we don’t like the deal they offer us—e.g. the tradeoff between data privacy and number of ads—we can’t just walk away from it to another service provider (unless we convince most or much of our network to walk away with us).

The monopolistic, public-utility-like aspect of Facebook’s business model of trading on network effects ought to make users concerned that they may be exploited or abused. And so they should be! Where network effects inhibit competition that might otherwise bring about market-based regulation of corporate behavior, we are left with little recourse but to hope that a company will simply choose to treat users fairly. And indeed, there seems to be more and more anti-Facebook sentiment, even in college kids; my students today are usually wary of or troubled by Facebook, where only a few years ago my students were generally uncritical of it. The fact that discomfort with Facebook is so often expressed on Facebook itself is neither ironic nor hypocritical; instead it is simply reflective of the problem: the fact that it’s the only place to have a conversation along with several hundred friends and contacts makes it both deserving of concern and discussion, and at the same time an unparalleled location to voice that concern and to have that discussion.
Facebook has managed to maintain this precarious position so far, but a step in any direction risks a fall. More ads on either the standard or the mobile site will most certainly annoy users. They likely will be perceived by some as crass and trashy, although users will, I’m sure, tolerate them so long as there remains no real alternative. A further complication is the targeting of ads. Right now, most everyone seems to be getting “dumb” ads: broadly-based ads, not the narrow targeting that Facebook’s data analytics promises; no more demographically well-informed than a billboard in one section of town rather than in another. Combined with the abysmal click-through rate of online ads, this is not a terribly impressive sort of ad to sell. But, as Target reportedly discovered in the recent Case of the Pregnant Teen, well-targeted advertising can quickly become creepy.

Selling data from the back end presents its own problems. Facebook has to let purchasers and investors know what kind of saleable demographic trends and correlations they can mine from their unprecedented data stores—but the more valuable that information seems to be, the more Facebook will draw the scrutiny of regulators and the ire of users. There’s a similar catch-22 with Facebook Connect and Facebook Payment: as Facebook further leverages its de facto monopoly into increased ubiquity and indispensability, the perception of its economic value will be tied to awareness of its anti-competitive effects. How much further can Facebook expect to expand before conversations about the Sherman Antitrust Act arise again?

It’s true enough that a public company has certain obligations, both legal and moral, to shareholders. These obligations, notably, do not include sacrificing long-term profits and viability in the name of short-term return on investment. Many companies no longer exist today because they learned too late that working for the quarterly report is a poor form of stewardship. (Or, put more cynically: the public LLC structure is built to focus on the short term, and executive compensation through stock options encourage cycles of overvaluation and collapse.) With the large percentages of shares being retained by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, and other previous owners—along with Zuckerberg’s values-based letter accompanying the IPO—it seems like Facebook is welcoming public ownership on its terms rather than being transformed by an imagined need to sacrifice fundamentals in the service of the stock ticker.

And so I suggest to Facebook: stick with what’s working. Don’t offend users’ sensibilities and make Facebook feel tacky and unfriendly and monetized through a new barrage of ads. Don’t creep users out by mining and selling ever more detailed data about user demographics. Don’t make users feel trapped by expanding out Connect and Payment and making Facebook ever-present, unavoidable, and stifling. Do not build a tower on these shifting sands, pushing revenue to reach ever-greater heights, but instead let the stock values fall to earth. Push us too far, and we will break you or abandon you; you will go the way of either Ma Bell or MySpace.

The articles was originally published on http://blogs.wsj.com byD.E. Wittkower is a philosopher of technology at Old Dominion University, and editor ofFacebook and Philosophy and iPod and Philosophy.