Facebook has been a force of social media. Its varying user base and addictive features have made the social networking site a No. 1 phenomena. Facebook has seen its active users grow exponentially in the last year alone. New comers to the online social media revolution as well as masters of the ‘Facebookasphere’ have been unaware of the deductions and information viewers can make of a person online. We all live online – even if we haven’t used a computer before. So have social sites such as Facebook, gone too far? Again we look at Facebook’s take on privacy and the price users must pay for ‘innovation’.
Facebook started as a college student project in Harvard, 2003, as a predecessor of Facemash. Mark Zuckerberg, a psychology and computer science student later went on to develop further. Facemash compared photos from people private ID tags from Harvard dorms and rated them as “Hot or not”. The site exploded and quickly received over 450 views in 4 hours. Unveiling the code to his classmates, Zuckeberg later announced he was working on a new project…Facebook. Facebook intended to connect people socially from all different backgrounds and mitigate the factors and problems people face in real life through communication. Facebook has been scene as a beacon for social communication and social diversity – it has driven forward forms of internet communication allowing for a more connected world.
Originally launched in 2004 at “thefacebook.com” Mark Zuckerberg faced several privacy lawsuits and settlements. Facebook bore the brunt of a fierce legal welcome and took to expanding from just Harvard to further colleges and establishments. After a location move, and the first investment by co-founder of PayPal (Peter Thiel), Facebook launched a High School version which was expanded to organisations such as Apple inc. and Microsoft in 2005. On the September 26, 2006, Facebook began the world wide social networking revolution now accepting everyone of age 13 and older with a valid email address – the world embraced Facebook and within a year, after a 1.6% Microsoft buyout, was rated at a value of $15 billion.
Facebook would now rise slowly to fame, after a record breaking introduction, it surpassed the likes of eBay in market value and later in 2010 took more traffic than the Google. As sites such as Facebook have grown in size – so have the worries of cyber security. In 2011 Facebook revealed that it removes approximately 20,000 Facebook profiles daily, as part of their anti-spam, anti fraud and inappropriate content policies. Facebook had steadily grown since 2009 and in December 2011 became the US second most visited site, behind Google.
Facebook had to this point be a privately owned company but offered a share price of $38 in May 2012, valuing the company at $104 billion – the highest newly listed company to date. Facebook however did not take too well to market life – record lows of $18 in market share later brought about the question – was Facebook really that successful? Could it make money, or was it just peoples favourite past time? Since then Facebook has been on a turbulent ride in its financial sector, over hyped product launches such as Graph Search and over exaggerated user numbers have caused the company to rethink its business model.
Security and privacy have been the centre of social networking – and has blighted the adoption of this technology for some. Since Facebook’s continuing popularity more work has gone into protecting user identity – however Facebook itself has been counter-intuitive in the process of protecting the information that people decide to share. In 2010 Facebook launched the ‘Like’ button, a feature of showing your interest in either a page, profile or status updates. This acknowledgement of appreciation would then be publicly shared on their profile. This has led researchers at Cambridge university to uncover the fact that what you ‘Like’ on Facebook paints a true likening of your personality, without your knowledge. For example, liking political pages, community groups or organisations subsequently has been analysed and the users personal interest uncovered. Although advanced formulas and data had been used to later identify a specific religion for the user – it still raises the issue of privacy and the user not knowing of all the information they share. Facebook has been at the centre of the social revolution, and hundred of thousands of pieces of data are now uploaded to its servers daily. This information is available in the public domain and some unknowing to the users involved. This information provides the perfect opportunity for misuse and abuse. Discrimination and prejudice will be the next challenge to face the online community – as the the user base grows and the ethnic diversity of services increase, it is inevitable that communities will clash. As a global service users can access its content in any part of the world – this may fuel the issue of appropriate content in ethnic areas. In countries of the Middle East some Facebook content is banned in order to prevent online friction between ethnic and religious groups. As well as prevention of religous friction, services have been filtered in China and Asia in fear of revolution against the communist government. Yet this is the censorship of the internet – which opens a whole new can of worms.
Yet Facebook has been seen as an innovator in social networking and advancing social diversity. It has brought about the use of colloquial talk and abbreviations: “LOL” and “ROFL”. This generation will now have lived in a world connected by social media – linked by keystrokes. As Facebook is now present on several platforms it has become accustom to type for brevity. This has again led to the adoption of ‘text talk’ in online communities. Some, more old fashioned, folk consider this to be the demise of the Standard English language and a barrier to communication. Yet many look upon this differently. The internet, social media and connectivity has allowed for language to develop and evolve – people can become creative with language and master define new phrases. Language is a continuously evolving ‘being’ without development such as this our language would still exist as it did in Shakespeare’s England. Language should not been seen as a victim of Facebook or the modern social networking.
Facebook is a service that has connected societies and broken down barriers of communication. It has been used in the Arab Spring and has changed the face of democracy and politics in every continent worldwide. Facebook and social networking has modelled communication and has changed the way we operate as a global community. Communication is the staple of society, and to improve the problems in society communication must adapt and progress with technology.