Social networking sites have become a norm in today's society and are the best tools for communication since technology is at a growing rate. Social network sites are defined as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd 2008). Social networking can enrich social lives for those separated from family and friends by long distances, bringing them together despite the physical separation. This has recently come to light in the number of people in the armed forces using Myspace, Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch (Lecky, 2009).
One well known social network Facebook was developed by a Harvard student and was meant just for that campus but it grew and now it is the most trafficked website in the world. Myspace is another social network. It was created by Chris DeWolfe. It was once the number one social network but it was overtaken by Facebook in 2008. Lastly, Twitter was launched by Jack Dorsey and is one of the biggest networks used by celebrities to send and receive messages across the World Wide Web.
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Public spaces also known as social networks have many purposes in social life. They allow people to make sense of the social norms that regulate society, they let people learn to express themselves and learn from the reactions of others, and they let people make certain acts or expressions 'real' by having witnesses acknowledge them (Arendt, 1998). Sadly to say that although these Social networks are on the rise so are child predators, other dangerous individuals, and bullying.
Popular press coverage of social networking sites has emphasized potential privacy concerns, primarily concerning the safety of younger users (George, 2006; Kornblum & Marklein, 2006). Researchers have investigated the potential threats to privacy associated with social networking sites. In one of the first academic studies of privacy and social networking sites, Gross and Acquisti (2006) analyzed 4,000 Carnegie Mellon University Facebook profiles and outlined the potential threats to privacy contained in the personal information included on the site by students, such as the potential ability to reconstruct users' social security numbers using information often found in profiles, such as hometown and date of birth. Acquisti and Gross (2006) argue that there is often a disconnect between students' desire to protect privacy and their behaviors, a theme that is also explored in Stutzman's (2006) survey of Facebook users and Barnes's (2006) description of the "privacy paradox" that occurs when teens are not aware of the public nature of the Internet. In analyzing trust on social network sites, Dwyer, Hiltz, and Passerini (2007) argued that trust and usage goals may affect what people are willing to share. Facebook users expressed greater trust in Facebook than MySpace users did in MySpace and thus were more willing to share information on the site.
The personal information revealed by teenagers on these sites also attracts sexual predators. There have been a number of reports of sexual predators locating victims through social networking sites (Antone, 2006; Reuters, 2006b). Another problem that these social networks can have on students is the information that is being put on these sites can affect future job offers. Students as well as adults must be mindful of what they write and the pictures they plant on the computer because he/she does not know with whom may come into contact.
Next, we know that bullying is a big problem in our schools but it has been being an even bigger problem on the internet. Not only with students but with the students' parents as well; students get on the internet on these social networks and bully other children this is called cyber-bullying. This Cyber-bullying causes students to harm themselves as well as others over comments and post that are being put on the computer.
Online social networking sites support both the maintenance of existing social ties and the formation of new connections. Much of the early research on online communities assumed that individuals using these systems would be connecting with others outside their pre-existing social group or location, liberating them to form communities around shared interests, as opposed to shared geography (Wellman, Salaff, Dimitrova, Garton, Gulia, & Haythornthwaite, 1996).
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Recently, researchers have emphasized the importance of Internet-based linkages for the formation of weak ties, which serve as the foundation of bridging social capital. Because online relationships may be supported by technologies like distribution lists, photo directories, and search capabilities (Resnick, 2001), it is possible that new forms of social capital and relationship building will occur in online social network sites. Bridging social capital might be augmented by such sites, which support loose social ties, allowing users to create and maintain larger, diffuse networks of relationships from which they could potentially draw resources (Donath & Boyd, 2004; Resnick, 2001; Wellman et al., 2001). Donath and Boyd (2004) hypothesize that social networking sites could greatly increase the weak ties one could form and maintain, because the technology is well-suited to maintaining such ties cheaply and easily.
(Hunter, 2008) The Professional Benefits the social network twitter has are :
Keep up with industry news, blogs and influential people.
Receive updates to events or conferences.
Socialize and network with industry peers.
Build industry contacts.
Provide feedback and share findings.
Tag and track discussions on specific topics, events
(Hunter, 2008) Business Benefits are:
Branding and promotion - gain exposure in a casual, social, personable environment.
Marketing - Twitter discussions have the ability to go viral very quickly.
Build relationships - connect with current and potential customers globally.
Build brand loyalty - engage with individuals through direct messages.
Notify followers of announcements, news, products, sales, specials, competitions etc - set up a Twitter feed so customers can subscribe via their mobile or RSS.
Seek customer feedback - ask questions, spark discussions.
Find potential new customers
Lastly, with Facebook, Myspace and Twitter participants have to consider how others might interpret their actions, knowing that any action will be broadcast to everyone with whom they consented to digital Friendship. For many, it is hard to even remember whom they listed
as Friends, let alone assess the different ways in which they may interpret information.
Without being able to see their Friends' reactions, they are not even aware of when their
posts have been misinterpreted (Boyd 2008).
The social networks as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are all "virtual places" where people find themselves, others and share information. You can keep in touch with family members, receive updates from business partners and build relationships. Social Networks have an influence positively and negative on social life. Some positive effects are; the best tool for communication, professional benefits, and business benefits. Some negative effects are it is a tool for predators, bullying.