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Communications & Media
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Social Networking (Essay Sample)


The expected work to be done was to discuss the start of social networking, its features, trends and the effects.


Social Networking
Social Networking
Social networking can be defined by looking at its merged words, social and networking. Social refers to something that relates to human society and its members. It also means tending to move or live together in groups or colonies of the same kind. On the other hand, a network is an interconnected system of things or people that facilitate communication amongst them. Therefore from the two words, we can define social networking as either an offline or online platform that aims at facilitating the building of social networks or social groups and relations amongst people. In these social networks, interests, events, scopes and real-life connections are shared between the members. This essay will tackle this topic by looking at its history, features and examples of networks, social impacts, and emerging trends, issues relating to networking, applications used and the effect to marketing.
The Bulletin Board System (or BBS.) is considered to be the first social networking service after being launched in 1978. The BBS was hosted on personal computers mainly desktops by then. Users were required to dial in through the modem of the host computer so as to share information and news over phone lines with other users. This system was quite slow as only one user could be allowed to log in at a time in a single host machine. It was this year that Jim Ellis and Tom Truscott created Usenet as the bulletin board. They distributed their web pages via this board. It also allowed people to post articles and posts, which were referred to as "news”. Instant messaging came later in 1988 with Internet Relay Chat (IRC) which was Unix-based. It was more sophisticated and thus could only be used by familiar people who linked and shared files as well as keeping in touch with each other. These both websites allowed people to share news, interests and events.
In 1994, the first social network site was launched. This was Geocities which was then followed by the following year. Two years down the line, AOL instant messaging service came to its existence. It was until the 21st century that saw the world into more serious social networks. Sites like Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn and emerged in the early millennia years. In 2004, students at Harvard University launched Facebook with the intention of connecting students not only in Harvard but across USA. To date this is seen as the largest social site that has spread all over the world though there's emergence of other sites like twitter.
Offline social networks exist where people of the same goal have come together in order to improve on their potential to achieve it. It can start with two or more people who then invite other people who also invite others and so on and so on. The logic is that any member invited by an existing member is put under that existing member and thus a tree-like network structure is formed. Here, the earlier the better because more shares and benefits are shared according to where each individual stands in the tree structure. People here have to possess high convincing power and be in a position to get to people physically. In order for one to succeed, he or she has to organize local parties, join clubs and bands. This is where many friends will be found and a sincere heart is felt more. These networks are majorly business oriented where product promotion is done. They're majorly seen as self-centered form of networking.
The features of most social networks can be looked at by focusing on the online services. According to Boyd and Ellison's (2007) article, "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life", social networking sites have some common technical features. These features allow users to: create profiles, affirm to join others in the network, and view their list of connections within the network. User profiles are often created when one answers some questions pertaining age, gender, birth, language, contacts, country, town or city, education, work, employment, hobbies and so on. Profiles are used as contacts between users in the network. Some sites like Facebook and Twitter allow members to add their profile pictures and even short-length multimedia files. Users can go to an extent of creating photo albums. In order to safeguard privacy of members, these sites have a feature that allows one to either publicize or privatize his or her information.
There are many sites that provide the ability for both the administrators and users to create events by Integrating with the calendar system. Often, there's provision of start and end date or time, location, description, number of attendees allowed, guests and others so that everything can be a run through. Another feature is the ability of sites to allow members to create groups and forums inside the network. Users with common interests and objectives create their own group to discuss their issues in privacy. These groups are sometimes called chartrooms in other sites. Other groups can be that of system administrators who control what goes on in the network.
Today, social networking is having many emerging issues. One of them is the use of both audio and video chats alongside messaging inside a social network site. Facebook in this case has included the video and audio plug-in. This has played a vital role in social interaction like dating, transaction of business activities, holding a conference etcetera. In relation to science, social networking has helped scientists to share knowledge and ideas by joining professional groups and pages where they post their researches, results and reports. In terms of education social sites are being widely used. According to Livingstone and Brake (2010), "Social networking sites, like much else on the Internet, represent a moving target for researchers and policy makers." Many students as well as teachers and lecturers are relying on social sites to get and share information. This has had a negative impact on students especially in third world countries where they over rely on the internet so as to get more information.
The business sector around the globe has grown tremendously due to the marketing in the social networks. Most businesses, importers and exporters, manufacturers and producers, buyers and sellers, are all found in social sites. Buying and selling has been simplified by use of VISA and other credit cards. Another trend being witnessed is where college and university graduates are forming groups that aim at getting them internships and employment. Most institutions have formed online alumni for students to get in touch with their former seniors who can help them. The challenge here is the oversupply of advice given to members which confuse or become boring. Despite the good trends coming up, there are also negative emerging issues.
Privacy of members on social sites has been a key issue. Users have been warned not to share personal details with everyone. Hacking has been posing a great threat to many. Moreover, some sites have been updating user's information without prior notice to the individual. Social sites also pose threat to...
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