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SOCIAL MEDIA-BASED ASSIGNMENT B – Dom keating 3847680

Facebook is a social media platform used by many people across the globe. Since its incarnation in the mid 2000’s Facebook has surpassed every other social media service, including the once very popular MySpace. Now in 2012 with over 900,000 users Facebook is what seems to be a big part of the world today. It is now considered a media outlet which can produce user generated content that may be influential to people involved in situations such as court cases. The site is arguably the strongest communication tool man holds today, though the networking tool also carries privacy concerns and some controversy issues with media related stories.

History

In 2004 Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook which was then originally called ‘thefacebook’. Zuckerberg ran this social media page as one of his hobby projects with some financial help from Eduardo Saverin who too noticed the lack of a dedicated social networking website for Harvard students, the two worked together to launch the page. Within months the idea and page had spread across the university and also to other pristine universities such as Stanford and Yale. Not long later Facebook became a national student network phenomenon and Zuckerberg had dropped out of Harvard and decided to run the page full time. One year after its creation thefacebook had been renamed Facebook and the domain facebook.com had been purchased.

Features and statistics

Now, everyday 526 million users connect with Facebook, the company who now dominates the social networking world globally. Facebook has since became one of the richest organisations in the world, and it’s usage and popularity still grows each day. Users utilize this platform to easily connect with friends anywhere around the world instantly. These features include ‘Facebook statuses and posting on another users ‘wall’, and the ability to also comment on these activities. Users may customize their own profile picture, upload content such as photos and videos, create pages and groups, send and receive personal inbox messages and also chat online with their friends.

In the world of Facebook each day 250 million photos are uploaded and 2.76 million likes are recorded, each month forty billion pieces of content is uploaded. It is hard to see what the world was like without this phenomenon. Statistics show that the country with the highest number of users is the USA with 166 million, followed by Brazil (59m), India (57m) and Indonesia (48m). Twenty first on the list Is Australia with close to 12 million Facebook users, 54.85% of our country is connected, though a 68.47% of the online population in Australia is connected to Facebook.

Other Facebook statistics I researched was demographics and Male/Female user ratio. The largest age group of users in Australia is currently 25 – 34 with over 3 million users followed by the 18 – 24 age groups. Australia has more female users than male at 53% of the nation.

Facebook is simply there to connect people around the world together in one network. The web page has gone through multiple layout and design changes since its beginning, the most notably being the news feed and timeline additions. The newsfeed has made Facebook more about seeing what your friends are up to rather than a page all about yourself, which seemed more prominent with MySpace. The feature is continuously updated putting the more recent activity at the top of the page, with scrolling down you will be accessing older content. The recent timeline addition allows you and your friends to access what you were up to any year, month or specific day since you registered with the service.

Privacy

Social networking sites greatly vary in the levels of privacy offered. With certain sites, such as Facebook the use of real names and uploading personal information to your profile is encouraged. It is up to the user what information is uploaded, though most do not realize what they are uploading for the public to see. Profile information may include address, birthday, and telephone number and also more personalized information such as hobbies and interests, even relationship status and sexual preferences is asked. If users privacy settings aren’t looked at carefully, the option for these details to be displayed publicly may not be un checked.

An option to block individual users is hidden away in the settings somewhere, but this must be on an individual by individual basis. Because that this is not an easy and well known action it is not commonly used. All of this has lead to many concerns that users are displaying too much information on the social networking site which may lead to serious privacy issues such as Identity theft, sexual predators and stalking and also when seeking employment. These days’ employers are required to seek negative information from potential employees. The new Facebook layout Timeline has received criticism as users past information and activity is now easily accessible that before would have perhaps been forgotten about.

Why so social?

But is this ‘Social’ networking service actually so social? Many social gatherings are often full of people sitting around in a circle connected to their online social media world and not their real social surroundings. Now we as a social networking society all of a sudden care about what’s for breakfast for an old class mate we haven’t seen for years and how often our mate can tag himself in at the gym each week. Smart phone technologies and access to the internet anywhere available has allowed us to access our profiles via phone applications which has made it even easier to be connected to the network, this addition to the service has made way for new possibilities for Facebook to tag current locations and upload live photos to social media web pages. Statistics show that the average user spends 700 minutes connected per month. Are we spending too much time on Facebook? Are our lives becoming more and more digital than real? Do we act differently on Facebook than we do in real life and are we actually having to much access to everyone else’s personal information?

Social Impact

Whether we like it or not Facebook and social media is a part of lives, and it is a part of the world today. With something so successful, there must be some positives right? If it wasn’t for Facebook certain action and uprising we see in the news today may not happen. For instance two years ago with the closure of The Tote Hotel in Collingwood an organization was formed in Melbourne, Save Live Music (S.L.A.M). Through Facebook petitions and rallies were organized to re-open the tote and to save the live music scene in Melbourne. With success, the live music venue was reopened.

Globally in 2011 in Cairo, Egypt and Tunisia there was an uprising that could have only been successful through the usage of social media, In particular Facebook. The action of a man in Tunisia lighting himself on fire in protest toward the government sparked activists to use social media to speak out to large groups and organize protests when access to political sites were blocked in Tunisia. Videos, photos and messages were uploaded to Facebook for the world to see. Through this the word spread to Egypt where protests began after a young computer programmer was hurt. This sparked a revolution and changed the government forever.

Very recently and close to home, through Facebook we have seen a community come together in support for a missing young lady in Brunswick, Melbourne. Unfortunately the missing woman was not found alive, but once again the social media service is making a strong appearance in a headline media story. Within five days a Facebook page dedicated to finding the missing women reached up to 120,000 likes. Although there have been pages created in memory of the victim, there have also been numerous sites that are directed towards the man accused. Police have warned that online comments may jeopardize the case but they say that Facebook have refused to shut them down.

Over the past decade we have witnessed the introduction of social media to be a household name, we have seen many platforms emerge, with some to fail, but most of all we have been a part of the social media revolution that is Facebook. Getting more and more popular everyday with an ever rising number of users and an extraordinary amount of data being collected, Facebook is one of the most well recognised companies in the world. There may be privacy issues, and other criticism involving social media usage and free speech but Facebook stands as the most popular communication and networking tool on the internet today.

– Dom Keating

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