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What Happens in the Facebook

What Happens in the Facebook

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Published by Kaitlyn418

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Published by: Kaitlyn418 on Jun 08, 2009
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12/21/2013

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What happens in the Facebook,stays in the Facebook.
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Reflective Essay for BCM101 New Media
©
Kaitlyn Carlia 2009
“...teenagers must and do disclose personal information to sustain intimacy, but they wish tobe in control of how they manage this disclosure”
- Livingstone, 2008This essay will define ‘online presence’ and critically evaluate it in personal terms, as well asexamining the idea of the ‘performative self’ and presentational media. It will look at thepurpose and function of social networking platform Facebook and how it facilitates thesharing of personal details, control over information and privacy issues. It also examines thepossible ulterior motives and uses of Facebook and the repercussion these have on youngpeople.
 
Online presence is a term that describes user activity online: the way that we communicate,interact and participate in virtual worlds such asMySpaceandFacebook (Langley, 2009). Studies have indicated that students spend approximately 30 minutes a day on Facebook andmy personal online presence certainly matches this time period. While I am present onFacebook I communicate in a one-to-many style, posting comments and links, editing contentand messaging others, although a greater percentage of my online presence is spent observingcontent than actually posting it (Pempek et al, 2009 and Westlake, 2009).The functions of previous popular social networking tools, such as MySpace, Flickr, Weblogsand Instant Messengers have all converged in one platform: Facebook, and this is the onlysite where I have an account. The purpose of Facebook is to “give people the power to shareand make the world more open and connected” (Facebook, 2009). Members of the Facebook community use it to communicate and stay in contact with friends, and upload personalinformation (Roberts and Roach, 2009, 3 and Westlake, 2009). Westlake (2009) calls thesharing of personal details “performance of the online self”, which may seem likeexhibitionism in some cases, but is essentially the embodiment of the adolescent need for intimacy and energetic engagement.Indeed, the sharing of information is a principle function of Facebook. When signing up for an account, the site encourages users to share their date of birth, home neighbourhood,relationship status, sexuality, political and religious views, contact information, job andeducation details, as well as favourite movies, books and quotes, and photographs (Westlake,2009). All of this information is displayed on the user’s profile and is available to friends
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andnetworks(Westlake, 2009). I choose not to display a majority of these details, as I feel somedetails will create a portrayal or presentation of myself that others may potentially viewnegatively. An example of this might be a boy who lists his favourite band as ‘GoodCharlotte’ being negatively perceived as an ‘emo’.‘News Feeds’ are another way that my information is shared. When I comment on a friendsWall
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or photograph, update my status, relationship or profile picture, these details are published in a reverse-chronological live-feed available to all of my friends (Boyd, 2008, 12).Because of this, I need to be aware that
anything 
will be viewed by a wide audience, not justthe friend I am writing to. This can limit or affect what I want to say. Facebook describes
 
itself as “a social utility that helps you...to learn more about the people who work, live, or study around you”, but there are concerns that News Feeds were going beyond the purpose of learning, and bordering on stalking:Facebook has privacy settings in place so that users can control their information, but only toan extent. I have my privacy settings as ‘friends only’ so that only people in my friends listcan see my profile and posts – but that includes 280 people from my jobs, university, school,family and social groups, so I can’t hide anything. Other privacy options include ‘friends of friends’, ‘networks and friends’ and ‘everyone’. Figure 1 shows that 75% of participantsallowed ‘everyone’ to view their profile. Almost 10% listed their phone number and homeaddress on their profile for ‘everyone’ to see.Figure 1. College Students and Social Networking Website Characteristics
Variable%(Frequency)Mean (
SD
)
Do you allow anyone to view your profile(s)?Yes 73.6% (117)
CASE STUDY 1On
5 September 2006,the social network site Facebook launched a feature called ‘News Feeds’. Uponlogging in, users were faced with a start page that listed and time-stamped every act undertaken by their  friends within the system. This included who had befriended whom, who changed profile pictures, who had written on other people’s Walls and what they wrote, who had posted new photographs, who had altered their relationship status, who had joined or left a group, written a public note or altered their list of  favourite books and movies. Many users were unnerved by the fact that their every move would be seen by such a wide audience. Although none of the information displayed in the News Feed was previously private per se, previously one had to go searching for it, but now News Feed announced details toeveryone in a Facebook circle and made the material far more accessible and visible. Within hours of thelaunch, users were forming groups such as “Students Against Facebook News Feeds” (which gathered over 700, 000 members) to express their frustration. Some users became worried about stalking: “It makes stalking way too easy...it scares me!” and “Facebook was creepy enough before...this is definitely crossing  some sort of line”. Why did users feel this way? Because News Feeds disrupted the social dynamic. Theynow felt vulnerable, exposed and invaded when disclosing their data, and for many it affected the way theybehaved on Facebook.

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