Social networking impacts in modern society
Social networks are web 2.0 based platforms that are centers on developing social relations among people with common interest thus enabling them to interact through the internet. Members of a social network post information about them in line with the requirements an individual site. (Breakenridge&Deirde, 2008) Users create personal networks where they share thoughts, events, likes etc. Until recently, social networks contained categories e.g. workmates or schoolmates but the situation has changed with the diversification of networks where people no longer interact within the brackets of people they know.
Popular social networks sites include Blogs and, Facebook Twitter, EBay, MySpace Amazon, Wikipedia, You tube. In the world today facebook and twitter are the widely used social network sites. Blogs also have world wide appeal especially when the contents are of interest to audience from varied cultures and geographical regions. (Breakenridge&Deirde, 2008) There exists regional social networking sites whose usage is usually limited to specific countries or regions this includes Badoo popular in Latin America,faces.com used by teenagers in Britain, Douban in china, hi5 and Ibibo that has wide following in India.
Social network sites have succeeded in bringing people together. Members who share interests can connect and share information across geographical regions through rapid messaging feature typical with almost all social networks. Searches are possible in almost all social sites while websites today are being linked with social networks especially facebook and twitter to increase they interactive qualities.
Web 2.0 –The base for social networks
The invention of web 2.0 in 1999 and its complete exploitation in the year 2002 marked the start of a new lifestyle characterized by high level communication. To fully understand the operations of social networks, its growth and potentials for improvement, it is imperative to analyze the operations of Web 2.0 which is the anchor for all social networks.
a) History and growth of social networking
Robust Social networking on the internet started in 1994 with creation of small on-line groups aimed at connecting people to interact either through sharing information in personal ages or group pages like chat rooms. This sites were remotely used due to the then limited internet connectivity in different parts of the world. (Breakenridge&Deirde, 2008) The topics discussed were usually limited to the interests of specific website user with limited variations but within the brackets of the interest area. E.g. a chat room for parents would discuss general parentage issues and related topics like family health tips or mortgage financing. The idea of this specialized networks became popular among people especially workmates and classmates, it is in this background that social networking tendency emerged. (Baron&Naomi 2008)
Livermore and Setzekorn notes that user profiles which personalized the social networking sites started in late 1990s.users would create personalized networking circle and search people with similar interests. Out of the personalized circles the frequency of usage increased. The then social networking sites had an unprecedented rise in the number of ‘hits’. The increased advertising revenue with great growth potential attracted several players into this web industry. Social networking sites with improved features have become the order of internet usage today. (Breakenridge&Deirde, 2008) Face book the largest site with members all over the world was launched in 2004.Twitter has also changed the information flow systems in modern world. Many people use twitter to express their opinion about issues and also access the opinions of who they consider as the authorities in different set ups.
Social network sites have succeeded in bringing people together member who share interests can connect and share information across geographical regions through rapid messaging feature typical with almost all social networks. (Baron&Naomi 2008) Funds for certain social causes are raised through such groups; Livermore observes that cooperation among groups in a social network is encouraged where members go to the extents of assisting each other economically.
b) Web 2.0 operation models in relation to social networking
Web 2.0 has several in built tools that enable information sharing among people. The user takes part in web 2.0 application either by using blogs, tags, social networking, bookmarking and in RSS.
O’Reilly notes that social networks utilize applications of web 2.0. O’Reilly notes that there are slates that make the sites what they are. The slates include;
· Search engine-used to find data in a page or the ‘external web’ using key terms. The rapidity of growth and facebook usage can be attributed to this web 2.0 slate. Ability to trace scant information about users of a social networks has increased the level of networking in modern world
· Page Links-It joins data into expressive ecosystems. Facebook and twitter relies on this slate in enabling users to share information in different web pages, either on the site or the external web.
· Authorship-this refers to the feature of generate content and share. This leads to collaboration among different web authors. For instance in ‘post comment’ provision in web pages. This slate personalizes interaction in social networks. A ‘tweet’ or an update from prominent personalities usually becomes fodder for the press. In social networking legal battles, the trial is based on proving the authorship of the information in question.
· Tags-Web page users can classify content by briefly describing it for ease of search avoiding pre-set classes
· Extensions application-web 2.0 has software that not only uses the web as an application stage but also a document server. This software includes; Oracle Java, Adobe Reader, ActiveX, Quick time Adobe flash player, Windows Media etc (O’Reilly, 2005).Many people has changed their facebook pages into photo storage platforms where they retrieve their photos at will.
· Signal to Users-Syndication features like RSS inform page users on content changes. This has made feed back in facebook and tweeter possible since a notification stimulates a response to the information posted in a facebook update or comment.Blog authors interact with readers due to this web 2.0 slate.
Breakenridge&Deirde observes that Social networks today benefit a lot from web 2.0 ability to link information. Users are able to be linked to web pages from the ‘mother’ web page. This feature is the base of internet advertising. (O’Reilly, 2005) The increased use of web 2.0 and social networking technologies has resulted to a 2.0 fad. Dion notes that today there is editing2.0, public relations 2.0, Social work2.0, Government 2.0 etc .web2.0 as the base for the improved editions in their fields. (Breakenridge&Deirde 2009).
Syndication specification that enables signals in social network sites has increased the usage of these web pages. Kittinger a web effects scholar views this from both social and technical effect of a notification in a social site. Socially, curiosity induces the end user to open the web page while from a technical angle, most notifications are linked to a webpage and therefore the end user is automatically redirected. Syndication utilizes standardized web protocols to enable users to information from a particular site in another plugin, application or website. This protocols also called web feeds include; RSS, RDF and Atom.
O’Reilly explains that social networking sites are influenced by Web APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).Web 2.0 uses applications like REST and SOAP to reveal APIs which mostly involve transmission through XML or JSON payloads. REST APIs are self describing after establishing the identity of a URI entry. This enables social networks page creators to allow data transmission in signal features of their sites.
Impacts of Social networking in modern society
The nature of a valid social idea is to cut across generational, class and social barriers creating a way of operation within its premises. In the current times, social networking sites are part of everyday life. The economic gains from social networking are immense and their entertainment and information value are way beyond the traditional models. To effectively serve their publics, Organizations are embracing social networking as a highly efficient tool for social communications. Initially, social networking was seen as a fad appealing to the idol youth but its effects on the whole society have proven otherwise. (Aleman, Wartman&Katherine, 2009) Today, social networking sites are not only fun filled galore but also part of corporate culture and professions practices. To comprehensively evaluate the effects of social networking in modern society, it is vital to explore the extent of usage and the impacts in various arts and science based professions.
a) Social networking and Marketing
There has been a revolution in various aspects of goods and services sector due to the presence of social networking. As noted earlier the use of web 2.0 which is the base of social networking has led to rise of new practices in professions with ‘2.0 code name’. Although social networking is usually an entertaining or informing practice to site administrators it is an economic activity. Commercial enterprises also see social networks as a means that will partially or fully facilitate the achievement of their objectives (Aleman, Wartman&Katherine, 2009)
Marketing have undergone a transformation with the growth of social networks. Kittinger observes that social networks are market places either for user’s ideas or businesses products. The main goal of social networking site is to cash in the advertising cash that is transforming site founders to the advertisers; social networks are opportunities to reach potential customers. (Baron&Naomi 2008) In human resources marketing and networking, social networks has radically changed interactions among professional in similar fields and increased business out sourcing. LinkedIn is a social networking site that connects professionals in all fields with disregard to geographical distances. This links can be credited for several consultancy contracts and sub contracts that have been facilitated by LinkedIn.
Aleman, Wartman&Katherine notes that the use of social networking sites has broadened to products usage where traders collaborate with partners or customers. Social networking sites are constantly fine tuning their marketing role with the dynamics of networking. (Livermore&Setzekorn, 2008),
Advertising in social networking sites has created strong brands and delivered product information across regions. In facebook which is the social networking site popular with advertisers, sales messages are customized for the target market. This is done by filtering adverts on the basis of information provided during registrations and the advertiser’s preference on display region or age. According to Red Bridge Marketing the concept of brand networking is also anchored on the potentials of social networks.
Blogs are also used as avenues for marketing. Although few goods are marketed through blogs, ideas and services are. Blog marketing is usually indirect where bloggers portray a point of view that endears the reader to buy the marketed idea. In political and social issues marketing, bloggers involve their readers with a persuasive content that changes their perspective to the benefits of the ‘blogger.’ during the year 2008 US elections, Both Democrats and Republicans had popular blogs to perpetuate their policies thus win the readers votes.
b) Social networking and science practice
Education and knowledge dissemination has greatly undergone a rapid evolution due to social networks (Livermore&Setzekorn, 2008), Social networks that started as means of enhancing teacher student interaction are now knowledge dissemination links. There are numerous educational blogs, scholar groups, chats, discussions where educational content is shared.
In the medical field health workers use social networks for disseminating research findings among themselves and institutions they work for and even to patients. (Kittinger ,2007) Kittinger notes that diabetic management units use social networks to communicate to the patients in their data bases. In Medical psychology social networks, patients of a certain terminal illness create social groups to share insights about their conditions. Addicts aspiring to recover utilize social networks to connect with colleagues for encouragement and behavior change facilitation materials. (Kittinger ,2007)
Emerging issues in social networking
Threats to privacy are emerging issues after the exponential growth of social networks. Baron Naomi notes that there is always a contention about the extent of personal information that members ought to provide as they register. Cases of vital data illegal access, hackers and viruses are increasing over time. Legal aspects of personal information are also an issue of concern where authorities may coerce social networking companies to reveal personal information. (Livermore&Setzekorn ,2008) also explains fears of data management in social networks. Members cannot establish whether there exists backup of information provided, erased or classified. In research activities (Kittinger ,2007) observes that there is mystery as to the rules governing on-line researchers, confidentiality of subjects and even assurances that the data provided is for research purposes only. Baron argues that there is stringent information policy in social networks at the face of privacy threats. She notes that social network sites like face book give member’s options to regulate the extent of information a party can view. The insatiable urge to be as free from parents as possible has found solace in Face book
b) Legal issues and human rights
On governance issues social networks misuse is an issue of our times. expressed concern with the possibility of propagandists using face book to fuel disharmony among the population. The truth in information communicated among users can never be authenticated; therefore controversial updates will always be consumed irrespective of possible detrimental effects to the population. From another angle, citizen’s awareness has increased due to social networks especially in regions with stringent information control legislations.
General Child safety and on-line bullying have had detrimental effects on our society.Underage children are targets of internet sexual predators .There are questions as to the nature of information that kid are exposed to either by friends in the online sites or public pages in networking sites. notes that emotion abuse of users of a social network site is rampant. This is closely related to cyber bullying that cases frustration, stress and trauma among the bullied. (Livermore&Setzekorn, 2008)
In administration issues social networking sites are common fodder for investigators .updates and comments on face books are increasingly becoming subjects of court cases so are ‘twits’ Livermore&Setzekorn a social researcher observes that school administrators are increasingly using face book to administer disciplinary actions on students. Sexual offenders either by graphics or texts are slowly facing justice. the net effect is increased caution among users especially face book and Twitter.
On-line dating has grown exponentially owing to social networks. Naomi notes that the interactive nature of social network sites requires people to reveal some degree of personal information like gender, age, geographical locations etc. According to Red Bridge Marketing this information coupled with pictures though practically online daters are famed for anonymity, leads to online relationships developing. The members go to extents of meeting physically after on-line acquaintance.
An astounding effect of social networks is the proportion of productive hours they consume daily. (Kittinger ,2007).Many organizations and schools block some networking sites in certain hours to ensure normalcy. Kittinger in his research on psychological effects of web 2.0 sites observed that peer pressure increases the usage of social web. Individuals join the networks not so much for the promised gain but due to recommendations from peers and friends. (Kittinger, 2007).
Social networking is a dynamic practice that is influenced by the trends in society. The rapid growth of a practice that was hardly known a decade ago to a central part in social life has seemingly caught the society in surprise. The society seems to be silent on how these networks should operate. Their value to society has been debatable while their uncontrolled growth is also contentious.
Irrespective of the value concerns, social networking is a centre of interaction for our generation. No one can ignore its effects and fit well in the society just like Kittinger described social networking as the’ necessary virus that has infected our generation’.
Aleman, Ana M. Martinez; Wartman, Katherine Lynk, 2009“Online social networking on campus: understanding what matters in student culture”, New York and London.Routledge, p134
Baron, Naomi S., 2008 Always on: language in an online and mobile world, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.p97
Breakenridge, Deirdre, 2008, ‘Social Networking: A revolution has begun’, FT Press, New Jersey, PP 125-142
Kittinger R. (2007) Social Behavior of internet users. New York v2 p.6
Red Bridge Marketing, 2008, ‘Social Network Marketing: The Basics’ Red Bridge Marketing, USA.Newyork press.p163
Romm-Livermore, C. & Setzekorn, K. (2008). Social Networking Communities and E-Dating Services: Concepts and Implications?. IGI Global. p.271
O’Reilly, T., (2005). What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software, 30, p.2005