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Social networking refers to the ability of individuals to construct profiles in a bounded system and connect with a list of users where they can share similar interests through web-based services. The modern society exists in the digital age where almost all the information is conveyed through the internet. Thus, the media plays a crucial role in influencing the standards of life. Due to the evolution of the social media, the digital age has enhanced participation and interactivity. Social network sites like Facebook, twitter, MySpace and Hi5 provide such vital services to interested parties. Human desire for information has been the leading cause of the growth in social networking sites (Friedman, 2011). As a result, the proliferation of social networks has created varied implications on the society. The impacts mainly emerge from the manner in which people do things and exactly what they do in the social sites. These impacts of the social networking have influenced the society in both the negative and positive dimensions.
Most sites encourage users to get in touch with friends and other forms of relations where it is possible to enhance interaction and communication. In this regard, users can share their interests, political views and other important activities. Facebook, being one of the world’s most popular social websites offers its users the chance to connect with friends and other relations (Bauerlein, 2011). Apart from the above roles, other functionalities exist that improve their popularity and efficiency to users. As a result, the websites offer multiple aids and means in which users can connect on an online basis. Considering the role played by the website, Facebook has enhanced globalization and usability, which is essential in adopting the modern digital society. The growth of this form of communication has led to the emergence of a new culture across the world. The relationship created between the users who share similar interests and views influence this new culture.
The significance portrayed by Facebook is depicted by the multiple means in which communication can be undertaken. Facebook provides users with the ability to connect with friends by creating sub-groups or fun pages. In this regard, the users could select the groups or pages they prefer as per their likes. In the real offline world, the services offered by the web sites simulate groups like clubs and community organizations. Apart from these services, users have the chance to update their status and the ability to comment on interesting topics. This form of feedback definitely could result in discussions, which facilitate communication. Similarly, Facebook allows one user to interact with multiple users simultaneously without any inconvenience. Considering the importance of these services that are unavailable in the real offline world, many users are attracted (Engdahl, 2007).
To enhance the level of interest amongst the users, Facebook offers a chance to play online games and take part in polls. These forms of services promote the idea of communication and interaction even when the users are bored or feel that the sites are monotonous. With these varied services available on the same site, users get multiple activities they can perform with the availability of the internet. Similarly, Facebook users have the freedom and ability to customize their profiles, backgrounds images and other page requirements.
As the need for information access and use rises, Facebook offers the users the required information from various sources. Due to many users intention to share their interests with their friends or groups, users could create links containing new information to their walls in Facebook. This ability improves the freedom and ability of users to access information from other users. Additionally, the users could have the flexibility to access the information regardless of their geographical location and at any time convenient to them. This service promotes the sharing of real world experiences in various social forums offered on the site. For individuals disregarded in the real world, the site offers a humble opportunity for them to interact freely and cheaply with other interested parties and reduce their stigmatization in the offline world. The anonymity offered by the site enhances this concept. Additionally, the site provides a chance to focus on other central issues concerning interaction apart from the physical and geographical differences (Kirkpatrick, 2010).
Since Facebook offers the users the concept that the world is like a village, unity and a sense of belongingness emanates within them. The services offered like groups and fan pages provide users with the chance to relate with other people even under barriers of small populations where similar mindset of people may be missing. Similarly, the users have equal chances to get involved in multiple activities that take place in different geographical locations. Through the links, which Facebook offers to its users, it is possible to access varied information by following the highlighted links (Kiesbye, 2011). As a result, they could make their contributions as per their capabilities. This fact brings the concept that the world is small and everyone can participate in the local events without the hindrance of the physical location prevalent in the offline world.
For individuals with varied complications that could not relate with other people due to mobility problems, Facebook offers a chance for them to socialize freely and conveniently. Taking into consideration the mobility problems prevalent due to age or physical disabilities, Facebook provides a simple means through which people could interact with others without any difficulty. This important feature demonstrates how social networking eliminates the great barriers prevalent in the offline world. Additionally, users could use Facebook to create groups where they can raise their concerns and get support. In this regard, anonymity offers them the chance to disclose information, which is only essential and get in touch with similar people with identical concerns giving each other support (Partridge, 2011).
Since Facebook harbors a group of users, it provides humble opportunities for businesses to meet with their potential or existing customers. In this site, businesses can market or advertise their products cheaply and conveniently. Considering the interactivity level offered by the site, businesses can be able to target specific markets and go international since this service provides a common platform for all players. Through this facility, businesses can determine, analyze and connect with other players in the same industry. The concerns and issues raised by customers can be detected earlier with respect to comments and statements obtain as feedback from customers. Thus, the business organization could use the information to enhance their productivity and sales volume. In situation where the business wishes to make announcements based on new products and services or market analysis, Facebook offers a chance to offer such information cheaply and conveniently.
Despite the numerous benefits derived from social networking services of Facebook, there underlie limitations to its usage. Initially, Facebook creates a sense of lack of privacy. Due to the freedom and flexibility of multiple users to create accounts with the site, it draws various people from all walks of live so long as they have an email address. As a result, the need for privacy by many users will be lost and its primary goal of retention of anonymity would be lost. This can be demonstrated by the information presented in the profile information inclusive of the user’s portraits place in the account. The ability of other users to access this information poses a threat of the user’s privacy. This is because the intention of the users who access other users’ information cannot be establish with the goal of optimizing the need of interaction.
Since most users spend their time in Facebook networking with their friends, the whole process consumes time. Additionally, the need to access information, which could not be vital in improving one status but merely on fun basis, limits the contribution of the users to economic activities. Considering that Facebook could be access by users who could be students or workers in different location. Their concentration in the main activities would definitely decrease posing adverse effects on their lives due to addiction attached to it. Similarly, on grounds of privacy, the need to retain a user’s information or deactivate the account is not fully realize. This process is possible but the actual information presented, the Facebook Corporation retains the information in their databases where in spite of a user quitting, his or her information are retains over time.
Facebook offers a sense of friendship creation among the users. Despite the connection that it created among many users who could be family friends, schoolmates, co-workers or even strangers, the real impact of friendship cannot occur. This is demonstrated by the fact that despite of the hundreds of friends one is connected to, the quality and integrity of friendship is not similar to what society is used. Similarly, Facebook proffers a chance to the users with evil minds to undertake cyber-bullying. This is intended for either fellow workers or students, which have dire impact on those on responsibility. Therefore, the need of friendship many not adequately be provided as anticipated. For individuals who spend most time in social networking, this activity could prove to be futile once the concept that these friends are not real friends but virtual connection where there exist no need to interconnect. Such repercussions could create a sense of psychological trauma thus posing threat to the health of the users (Espejo 2008).
Miscommunication is a common phenomenon in Facebook. The consideration of honesty and respect of the friends of the users plays a crucial role in enhancing the relationship that exists amongst the users. In this case, the users have high chances of misunderstanding themselves due to the lack of physical presences. As a result, most users could not demonstrate honesty, which is a crucial element of interactions. Most the face-to-face communication is beneficial to communication due to the ability to other elements of communication like gestures, tone variations and facial expressions. These elements are missing in the social networking facilitated by Facebook. Additionally, the disparities that exist in communication amongst users also enhance chances of misunderstanding. This therefore reduces the need of communication through Facebook. Another crucial element also refers to the validity of the information offered in the social site since there are elements of virtual anonymity.
With the effects that the social websites offer to the society, the government plays a crucial part in ensuring that the conduct of socialization occurs in a just and fair manner. The government plays crucial role in formulating of the policies and laws that guide the conduct of both providers of social networking and the users. The formulation of the laws is based on the concerns the nature of networking offers to the users. These laws are appropriately structured and are meant to counter any malpractices in the communication process amongst the users. Overtime, these laws are revised to meet the needs of both providers and users of social networking. As a result, the interaction and communication Is regulated and all participants can achieved their desired goals in the process. Similarly, the advancement in technology has enabled the government to undertake the surveillance of the social relations among the users. This is aimed at countering the vulnerabilities like terror and cyber attacking (Sotto 2010).
Previously, the government adoption of the Protection of IP Act (PIPA) was considered vital in the social networking industry. This Act mainly stipulated the need of users to register their IP addresses with the government. Through this, the social website users would not violate the need of the purely interaction and communication. Similarly, the extent of anonymity would decline thus reducing the chances of uses misrepresenting themselves and exploiting or attacking other users. Nevertheless, after some time, this law was written off due to the various implications it had on the industry (Ryan, 2011).
After a long period without regulation in the social networking industry, The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CRISPA) were introduced. The intention of the act was to regulate the information that is being traverse over the social websites. With this act in place, instances of crime would decline due to the search of honesty and integrity in the process of communication. Considering this vital role played by the act, adequate measures have been taken to reduce the malpractices that were common in the social networking industry. Though the crucial role played by the act is important, the users have feeling of restriction due to lack of anonymity in the information that they post in the sites.
As portrayed by Foucault's big brother concept that despite the social networking being free from control, there exists government surveillance, which limits the freedom in the course of interaction (Foucault, 2000). This concept further illustrates that the need for social networking is vital, but adequate measures must be adopted to counter the users and providers of the services. In this regard, the privacy of the users is restricted and they feel controlled.