Online Social Networks


Along with the upcoming developments in information technologies, online social networks have gained substantial popularity, and are incorporated in our every day life. Online social networks are organized around users. Participating users join a network, publish their profile, and create links to any other users with whom they know. The social network provides a basis for maintaining social relationships, for finding users with similar interests and for locating content and knowledge that has been contributed or endorsed by other user (Mislove et al, 2007).

The first article Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship by Boyd and Ellison from 2007, is an introductory article on social network sites. It provides outsiders an introduction, definition, history, key changes, developments and comparison of different social network sites. The most important of this whole article is the part where the authors discuss the previous research on social network sites. The author divided it in four parts:

– Impression Management and Friendship Performance: Most websites encourage users to make an accurate representation of themselves, but not all users do. The author examined the phenomenon of fakesters and argued that profiles could never be real. The author also points out that friends on social network sites are not the same as friends in everyday life;

– Networks and Network Structure: Social network sites are a rich source of data for companies. This makes it possible for network analysis researchers to explore large-scale patterns of friending, usage and other indicators. According to previous research there are passive members, inviters, and linkers;

– Bridging Online and Offline Social Networks: Social networks reinforce the existing offline networks. Most social network sites support pre-existing social relations. Some social network sites are there to maintain existing offline relationships. These relationships may be weak, but it does exist;

– Privacy: There are potential privacy concerns with social network sites. This subject has been discussed a lot in class. But what I do find strange, is that according the article that the concern on privacy is primarily on younger users.

The second article Network Analysis in the Social Sciences by Borgatti et al. from 2009, is a review of the history of social network analysis (SNA) in the social sciences. It presents a clear description of its theoretical foundations. The other issue that is presented in this article is the difference between social network analysis in the physical sciences and social sciences. The increase in research on social networks over the past years has lead to a distortion between the physical and social science. As stated in the article, in physical sciences a series of networks have a certain property. In social science, different networks will have varying network properties and that these variations account for differences in outcomes for the networks (Borgatti et al, 2009). I think that the different views of social science and physical science on network analysis is interesting. Social and physical scientist have different goals, with these different goals we can view or do research on network analysis from different angles.

The third article Business Network-Based Value Creation in Electronic Commerce by Kauffman et al. from 2010, explores the circumstances under which value is created in business networks made possible by IT. In the article there are three sets of propositions developed that concern business network-based value creation and focus on network formation, network demand and network stability. To test the propositions the authors used a multiple case study approach to explore the theory. In my opinion the most important motivation to choose the travel and hospitality industry is, this industry has achieved a level of sophistication in terms of advanced IT use and intensive market competition these past years. The evidence for business network formation, network demand and network stability is explained by several cases (Kauffman et al, 2010).

The two examples that I have chosen to illustrate the subject online social networks are, BranchOut and Viadeo. BranchOut is an online social network application that is developed for Facebook. Viadeo is an alternative to professional social network LinkedIn. Some users use Facebook for private use and for professional use. Some users like to separate their personal and personal life.

BranchOut is an online social network application that is developed for Facebook. It is designed for finding jobs, networking professionally and recruiting employees. It is the largest professional networking service on Facebook and lots of users are finding a job through BranchOut.The things I have found regarding users using Facebook to find jobs is remarkable. The data that I have found showed that actually more people find their jobs through Facebook compared to LinkedIn.

Viadeo is more a “traditional social platform to network for professionals. The strength of Viadeo is that is it the number one professional network in China. Compared to BranchOut and LinkedIn, both can’t get to China due to several issues.

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