Online Social Networks


Social Networking Sites have become considerably popular since the early 2000s. Although SNSs are aimed at one particular goal, which is, simplistically speaking, to connect users to other users; researchers have yet to fully comprehend the social and cultural implications of these sites. The idea of having a community where an individual is the center of his/hers network (egocentric view) is appealing to a great majority. SNSs are, thus, essential to the construction and maintenance of self-presentation, control of self-identity, and impression management. Scholars such as Rosenberg & Egbert (2011) have studied the importance of these concepts in today’s society, where relationships are being born, formed, and maintained in an online environment. In their paper, the authors conclude that users need to be more aware when it comes to their own Facebook usage; since how an individual behaves online, affect and influence how he/she is perceived by others.

Interestingly, scholars have found that online segmentation happens inasmuch as in the offline world; “the problem of social order” (Borgatti, Mehra, Brass, & Labianca, 2009). Namely, individuals tend to form online groups based on affinities such as racial, ethnic, cultural, economic etc. Although some SNSs are designed for a tailored group (in the case of MyChurch and CouchSurfing, for example), most Social Networking Sites are targeting larger groups of people (as in the case of Facebook). However, some have been designed to a specific Geo-location and ended up being successful in another- Orkut, for instance, designed for the U.S public but highly successful in Brazil at the time (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Therefore, the predictability of a SNS’s success in a particular market and/or society is relatively low; other variables play an important role in the process, “trust between users and website” (Boyd & Ellison, 2007) to name a few.

Moreover, SNSs are proving to have substantial educational value, when used appropriately. For students who enroll in online courses, having a community to talk to and a sense of togetherness is essential in order to motivate them to share opinions and points of views, as they normally would in a physical classroom (Brady et. All., 2010). However, privacy and safety issues are still a concern for scholars and educators, and due to the lack of academic research on the subject, no real conclusion can yet be drawn.

Similar to what SNSs provide, Business Network helps individuals in a corporate level; assisting in their relationships and networks, by optimizing every step of the creation process. This type of business involves firms around the globe, bringing them closer in the process of making a new product or delivering a new service (Kauffman, & Heck, 2010). So whether we discuss SNSs or Business Networks, a clear, common social experience is present in both, therefore, we ought to study how we can fully benefit from these technologies.

Personally, I believe there must be a distinct separation between personal and educational environment.What do you think about it? Should schools adopt SNSs for education purposes?

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References:

Borgatti, S.P., Mehra, A., Brass, D.J., and Labianca, G. 2009. Network analysis in the social sciences. Science 323(5916) 892-895.15.

Boyd, D.M., and Ellison, N.B. 2007. Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13(1) 210–230.14.

Brady, K. P., Holcomb, L. B., & Smith, B. V. (2010). The use of alternative social networking sites in higher educational settings: A case study of the e-learning benefits of Ning in education. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 9(2), 151-170.

Kauffman, R.J., Li, T., and Heck, E. 2010. Business network-based value creation in electronic commerce. International Journal of Electronic Commerce 15(1) 111-142.

Rosenberg, J., & Egbert, N. (2011). Online impression management: personality traits and concerns for secondary goals as predictors of self‐presentation tactics on Facebook. Journal of ComputerMediated Communication, 17(1), 1-18.

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One thought on “Online Social Networks

  1. I agree with you that there should be a clear distinction between a personal and educational environment because typically personal environments are much more informal and include people you have closer relationships with. There needs to be a level of professionalism when it comes to an educational environment especially at the collegiate level where stakes are much higher because I think people thrive better in such a setting. I think SNS shouldn’t be incorporated into educational settings because it allows you to see “behind the scenes” of someone that is in your presentation group, for example. I use facebook quite frequently for presentation groups because it is an easy way for everyone to connect and be able to talk simultaneously with everyone in the group. The down side of that though is that you end up friending the people in your group and then you can see all of their personal information so you can draw conclusions (that may or may not be correct) about their level of professionalism. If you see that someone has a lot of party pictures with them clearly intoxicated, you may be less likely to trust them because of the conclusions you have drawn from seeing those pictures. Just because someone has pictures like that, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t responsible or are good students but I think that it may portray them to be unprofessional. Therefore, I think personal and educational environments should be separated so you only draw conclusions from how they portray themselves in person, rather than online.

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