Web 2.0 has allowed for users of the Internet to explore new capabilities through social networking sites such as Facebook. For the past month I have closely observed this Web 2.0 medium which allows online communities of people with shared interests to interact with one another. Facebook allows people to keep in touch with friends and family members as well as share photos and other characteristics that will be discussed in this essay. Web 2.0 helped Facebook to be the most popular social networking site on the Internet today because of it’s extremely user friendly interface.
Communication and it’s content on the Internet is completely user oriented thanks to the new Web 2.0 technologies. New web sites allow users to do more than just retrieve and relay information but now offers control to what is put on and in some cases taken off pages. It is meant to intensify proficiency of online communications and secure information sharing on the web. Online communities can now be found in different forms such as social video sharing sites, wiki, blogs, and even social networking sites.
According to mashable.com, Facebook is a social networking site introduced to the web on February 4th, 2004. It is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. A man named Mark Zuckerberg who was born in White Plains New York originally created it. During Zuckerberg’s childhood he created computer programs that include games and communication tools. For example, he created a program to help the employees communicate in his father’s office. Synapse is also a program that he created, which was a music player AOL and Microsoft tried to recruit him and purchase his software. Instead, he chose to attend college at Harvard University. Zuckerberg did not stop programming their either. Coursematch, a program he designed in 2003, let students see classes that others were enrolled in. Later on that year he created a website called facemash.com, which was a website with pictures of students where people could rank them. This started out as a prank but ended him in front of the Harvard Administration Board because of breaking rules in the student handbook. He then created what we know as Facebook and limited the users to only Harvard University students so students could easily meet each other. As Facebook became bigger, Zuckerberg brought on Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Andrew McCullon, and Chris Hughs to help the make the site bigger and more popular. It became a huge success so he expanded it to other Ivy League schools as well. Facebook then expanded the network and allowed every college to join, and now anyone with an Internet connection and a valid email address can easily join the site and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Barnes tells us that "teenagers now use organized social Web sites to meet others and explore identity formation." On the other hand there have been large amounts of people joining that are over the age of 30. In fact, Techcrunch.com states that the age group of 35 plus has grown 98 percent from 2006 to 2007.
The site is set up and organized by where you live, work, what school you attend, and what region you are connected to allowing you to interact with other people. According to Wikipedia.com, once on the site "Users can add other friends, send messages to each other, and update their personal profile to notify friends about themselves." Although Facebook is relatively new to the Internet, it has become extremely popular and attracts users all over the world.
In order to show just how huge Facebook has become since 2004 I have found these statistics directly from the Facebook statistics site. Since 2004, Facebook has attained over 120 million active users and is the fourth most trafficked website in the world. Facebook is also the most trafficked social media site in the world. There are over 55,000 regional, work related, collegiate, and high school networks on Facebook and more than half of the users are outside of college. It is the number one photo sharing application on the Web, there are more than 10 billion photos uploaded to the site and more than 30 million photos uploaded daily. It is internationally known with more than 35 translations available on the site, with over 65 in development Platform. There are over 400,000 developers and entrepreneurs from over 160 countries and over 52,000 applications that are currently available on Facebook Platform with, 140 new applications added per day.
Facebook has simplified their navigation system as well to give users easier access to its functions and applications. Its core functions such as Profile, Friends, Networks, and Inbox are located by links at the very top left of the user’s page. Applications such as Photos, Notes, Groups, Events, and Posted items are simply displayed on the left side bar, along with any specific applications that user has added to their account.
Any user of the web whether using Facebook or not is concerned with their privacy. Facebook’s founder makes sure that they give the people tools to control the information they share and who they chose to share it with. Users have the ability to share and restrict information based on specific friends or friend lists. User’s fingertips easily control what kind of personal information they put on with minimal confusion. For example, I have my very own Facebook profile. In my profile, I can allow others to see specific information about me such as where I go to school, my home address, email address, cell phone number, and so on. There may be a slot for all this information to go into, but I can chose whether or not I want to supply that personal information to others.
Facebook recently introduced users to a function called the "Mini Feed". The mini feed allows users to progressively see exactly what their friends have been doing, for example how they have been feeling and even whom they have been keeping in contact with. The mini feed alerts users about friends that you would like to know more about and even some that you just do not care for. What many users may not know is that Facebook has a settings option. This option allows you to control what type of information is displayed about you, if you chose to have any at all. If you do not want people to see whom you have been talking to or when you upload new pictures, then you simply chose not to in the settings area. You can also chose to see specific people every time they update or you can chose to see nothing at all. The best part, it is all completely up to the user every time.
Every person who uses Facebook really has their own specific reasons why they do. Personally I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family whether they live next door or if they live thousands of miles away. It’s fun to look at pictures of everyone and see occasions that I may have missed out on. I love to log on and look at the new pictures from the night before that friends have tagged me in. Commenting on funny pictures or posting on my friends wall is my absolute favorite. Facebook also makes it easier to keep in touch with a few of my friends and family who are currently serving in the war overseas. Speaking on the phone is not always easy due to long distances, money, and also different time zones. Facebook allows us to communicate when it is convent for the both of us. Facebook also has a new chat option where we can communicate with live chat with friends that are currently logged on. These are just some of my personal reasons for using the site.
Others may have different reasons to use Facebook such as meeting your peers, according to Cnet news it is not just for college kids anymore. Members are typically older and more mature than on other sites, there is also a higher prevalence of white-collar users. Also to find business contacts, not only are your friends on Facebook, so are your prospects, your customers, and your competitors. Facebook members are open to connecting. Facebook is fun because it is easy to begin a dialog with highly successful and famous people that are otherwise unreachable. From a business prospective it’s useful to build relationships. It allows users to engage in conversations with your prospects and customers, you can better adapt your marketing and business services to meet their needs. By consistently showing up, posting relevant information, and being a leader, you can increase credibility as an expert in your area. According to International Herald Tribune you can also place targeted ads. With Facebook Social Ads, you can test out extremely targeted advertising for minimal cost or even no marketing cost. Aside from paid ads, Facebook is totally free to use and with regular activity you will end up with more traffic, more subscribers, and more paying clients.
It is clear that Facebook is a great social network for people of all different ages. If you do not have an account yet, I would recommend that you sign up as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you do have a Facebook account, you should start using it to your advantage. People should start to expand their horizons to not just communicating with your old high school buddies or your college friends but start with people that are involved in your field of work interest. Many people get job offers just by using Facebook. Join groups that interest you as well as make friends with people that look good to know. It is important not to be shy because the purpose is to connect and interact with other members. With Facebook you actually have to market yourself to become popular. In most cases it is done with interaction, which I talked about above, but you can also do things like adding photos of yourself and other members. When you do this the other people that you tagged in the photo will get emailed, therefor increasing the number of people who see you on Facebook. Another good thing would be to keep your profile up to date. If you do not keep your profile up to date it will start dying down. By keeping it up to date it will gain more traffic and more people will get to know you.
Web 2.0 allows users to connect to many different types of communication media on the Internet, Facebook being only one out of hundreds that you could use. My research shows that Facebook is the hottest social networking site around and it is growing bigger by the day. With 120 million active users and is the fourth most-trafficked website in the world it is expected to reach over 200 million users and just about reach the number one trafficked site in the world by the end of 2008.
Uses of Facebook vary from person to person but in the end people use it to as a source of entertainment. Looking at pictures and videos of your friends or your night at the bar, making silly comments about things you might not remember from the night before. Keeping up to date news with your family or to connect with people within your desired work field to look for open job positions or even to keep on top of your current events in the office.
Facebook is a useful tool but the best is that it’s a Web 2.0 medium. It allows the users to be the voice, eyes and ears as to their own content on the net. The goal is to secure information sharing on the web and intensify proficiency of online communications. Tim O’Reilly (2005) does say that the Web 2.0 era lets the users add value. Therefore we control what direction Facebook and Web 2.0 will move in.
O’Reilly, Tim. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from
Yadav, Sid. (2006) Facebook-The Complete Biography. Retrieved November 27, 2008 from Mashable All Thats New On The Web. http://mashable.com/2006/08/25/facebook-profile/
Hrush( May 3, 2008) Why do people use Facebook? Retrieved November 30, 2008 from Cleartrip Blog. http://blog.cleartrip.com/journal/2008/5/3/why-do-people-use-facebook.html
Lewis, K., Kaufman, J., & Christakis, N. (2008). The Taste for Privacy: An Analysis of College Student Privacy Settings in an Online Social Network. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 79-100.