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A QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
Rajat Raizada Taruna Vinayak Gaurav Srivastav Sakshi Garg Sakshi Mehrotra Shobhit Chandak
SUBMITTED TO:Professor Y .P.Gupta
We hereby declare that all the work presented in the project report entitled “The Effect of Social Networking Sites on the Personal Lives of the People” of the subject Business Research Methods at ICFAI , IBS Gurgaon is an authentic record of our own work carried out under the guidance of Prof Tapas Mahapatra. Date: Rajat Raizada Taruna Vinayak Gaurav Srivastav Sakshi Garg Sakshi Mehrotra Shohit Chandak
This is to certify that project report entitled “The Effect of Social Networking Sites on the Personal Lives of the People” of the subject Business Research Methods, which is submitted by Rajat Raizada, Taruna Vinayak, Gaurav Srivastav, Sakshi Garg, Sakshi Mehrotra & Shohit Chandak at ICFAI , IBS Gurgaon is an authentic record of the candidate’s own work carried out by them under our guidance. The matter embodied in this thesis is original and has not been submitted for the award of any other degree.
Prof. Y.P. Gupta (Project Guide) Date:
We express our deep gratitude to Prof. Y.P. Gupta of ICFAI BUSINESS SCHOOL for his constant support, guidance and motivation which helped us immensely in completing this project. The project provided us with an opportunity to understand the fundamentals of research methods in a better manner and apply them. The insistence on taking up a socially relevant topic like the use of social networking sites help us to understand the psychology of the people using these sites better and correlate the research to human behavioural aspect. We also would like to thank our respondents for giving us their valuable time and providing us with the information needed to carry out the research successfully.
Rajat Raizada Taruna Vinayak Gaurav Srivastav Sakshi Garg Sakshi Mehlotra Shohit Chandak
The social networking sites are gaining a lot of popularity these days with almost all of the educated youth using one or the other such site. These have played a crucial role in bridging boundaries and crossing the seas and enabling them to communicate on a common platform. It has become a popular and a potential mean for them to stay friends with the existing ones and to grow up their social circle at least in terms of acquaintances. The question regarding the safety, privacy and the legal issues have been cropping up all this time. Through this research we try to find out the impact of these networking sites on the personal and professional lives of people using them. It is a very subjective question to answer and is very opinion based and the same is reflected in the research methodology adopted by us. The report is initiated with the definition of the objective followed with the research methodology used along with the research design, sample size, methods used for the purpose of conducting survey. It also incorporates the sampling frame and the data collection procedure. Subsequent to this is the Introduction to the networking sites along with a brief description of the most popular sites. Then the issues of concern which have come up along the way in all these years since these sites gained popularity are discussed. The various issues and concerns of the respondents are also incorporated there. The next part of the research has the literature surveys which are the articles we took up from the published reports. We then analyzed and interpreted the data at length. The last part deals with the suggestions and recommendations that the group has come up with after carefully analyzing and incorporating the opinion of all concerned.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Objective Research Methodology Sampling Introduction to sites How do Social networking sites work Popular networking sites Issues of concern Literature Survey • SNS in India • How safe is your Orkut account • An article regarding technology used • The Perils of Social Networking • Other Research 9. Utilization in business 10.Analysis and Interpretation 11.Limitations 12.Conclusion 13.Suggestion 14.Annexure
In this age of globalization, the world has become too small a place thanks to the electronic media and portals. Communication has become effective as never before thanks to the advent of internet. The social networking sites have also played a crucial role in bridging boundaries and crossing the seas and bringing all people at a common platform where they can meet like minded people or find old friends and communicate with them. It has become a potential mean to relation building and staying in touch with all known. Hence the objective that we wanted to achieve through our research is to: Find out the influence of social networking sites on the personal and professional life of the people- how it affects their relations, what are its uses for each individuals and how have they been influenced by these sites.
A considerable amount of work has been done in this field and several articles are available on the internet and magazines about the social networking sites. So first we carried out a literature survey of the available data for collection of secondary information. We followed it by a descriptive research design in order to understand the problem and carry out the research in a lucid manner. Data Collection method: After secondary data collection through data collection over the internet, a primary research was carried out through a questionnaire. The questionnaire was well structured and the responses were sought from the respondents. The nature of the questions was such that it avoided ambiguous responses from the respondents and it also helped in quick analysis of the data collected. Two methods of questioning were used for the data collection:
1). Person Assisted: The responses were collected by personal questioning. The responses were taken from the students in the Qutab Institutional area from institutes like IMI, FORE, IIFT, etc. this form of questioning helped the respondent to understand the questions better and answer accordingly. 2). Wed enabled: The questionnaire was e-mailed to respondents who filled it and then mailed it back to us. A flaw that we realized here was that some of the respondents did not understand the questions and hence could not answer them to the best of their capability, unlike the other method employed where the questions could be explained if required.
Sampling Design: The target population for our research was defined as the students who form the major chunk of users of these social networking sites. This was done to have a better insight into the research as the target population was one which is the most avid user of these sites and could provide good responses. Even the understanding of the questionnaire was easy to them as they were familiar with the sites and quite clear about the reasons they use it for and the various problems that they face. The extent of the survey was limited to the IBS Gurgaon and Qutab Institutional area of New Delhi. However, through online survey some regions outside Delhi were also reached to validate the information collected from Delhi. Sampling frame can be defined as all the users of social networking sites in the vicinity. Once the sampling frame was decided, simple random sampling method was used to select the respondents. In the person assisted survey, almost everyone in the sampling frame had an equal chance of being selected and we got the responses filled through those people who were readily and willingly accepting to fill it.
To some extent judgment sampling was also used, especially in the online survey, where the questionnaires were sent only to our acquaintances in the other Bschools outside Delhi.
Wikipedia states that a social network is “…a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of relations…” (Social network, 2007). With the rapid growth of people who use or have access to the Internet, social networking websites are a must for the Internet community to stay in touch with each other. Social networking web sites help people keep in touch with old friends, make new friends, distribute new data or product, and many more aspects of our everyday lives. The first official social networking web site was Classmates.com which was founded in 1995 (Social Network, 2007). What followed was a slow but steady growth in numbers of social networking websites to the overwhelming number of sites we have today. The reason that social networking websites work so well is that, like their inception, they start of small and then grow exponentially. The site starts off with a few people who then tell their friends about the site, then those friends tell their friends about the site and soon the site is a huge database of users connected by friends, acquaintances, or just random people. The web sites are made to “…allow users to create a "profile" describing themselves and to exchange public or private messages and list other users or groups they are connected to in some way.” (Social Network 2007). Most social networking websites are often designed to fit a certain type of community such as the college community being mirrored by Facebook.com or a music/party community mirrored by MySpace.com. With the rapid growth of social networking web sites and their global scale usage, whatever one feels concerning social networking web sites is irrelevant because social networking web sites are on a popularity rise and are here to stay.
SOCIAL NETWORK SITES (SNS): A DEFINITION
We define social network sites 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. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site. While we use the term "social network site" to describe this phenomenon, the term "social networking sites" also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. "Networking" emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC). What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between "latent ties" (Haythornthwaite, 2005) who share some offline connection. On many of the large SNSs, participants are not necessarily "networking" or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network. To emphasize this articulated social network as a critical organizing feature of these sites, we label them "social network sites."
HOW DOES ‘SNS’ WORK
While SNSs have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their backbone consists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends who are also users of the system. Profiles are unique pages where one can type oneself into being. After joining an SNS, an individual is asked to fill out forms containing a series of questions. The profile is generated using the answers to these questions, which typically include descriptors such as age, location, interests, and an "about me" section. Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users to enhance their profiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profile's look and feel. Others, such as Facebook, allow users to add modules ("Applications") that enhance their profile. The visibility of a profile varies by site and according to user discretion. By default, profiles on Orkut or hi5.com are crawled by search engines, making them visible to anyone, regardless of whether or not the viewer has an account. Alternatively, sites like MySpace allow users to choose whether they want their profile to be public or "Friends only." Facebook takes a different approach—by default, users who are part of the same "network" can view each other's profiles, unless a profile owner has decided to deny permission to those in their network. Structural variations around visibility and access are one of the primary ways that SNSs differentiate themselves from each other. After joining a social network site, users are prompted to identify others in the system with whom they have a relationship. The label for these relationships differs depending on the site popular terms include "Friends," "Contacts," and "Fans." Most SNSs require bi-directional confirmation for Friendship, but some do not. These one-directional ties are sometimes labelled as "Fans" or "Followers," but many sites call these Friends as well. The term "Friends" can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarily mean friendship in the everyday vernacular sense, and the reasons people connect are varied (Boyd, 2006). The public display of connections is a crucial component of SNSs. The Friends list contains links to each Friend's profile, enabling viewers to traverse the network graph by clicking through the Friends lists. On most sites, the list of Friends is visible to anyone who is permitted to view the profile, although there are exceptions. Most SNSs also provide a mechanism for users to leave messages on their Friends' profiles. This feature typically involves leaving "comments," although sites employ various labels for this feature. In addition, SNSs often have a private messaging feature similar to webmail. While both private messages and comments are popular on most of the major SNSs, they are not universally available. Beyond profiles, Friends, comments, and private messaging, SNSs vary greatly in their features and user base. Some have photo-sharing or video-sharing capabilities; others have built-in blogging and instant messaging technology. There
are mobile-specific SNSs (e.g., Dodgeball), but some web-based SNSs also support limited mobile interactions (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, and Cyworld). Many SNSs target people from specific geographical regions or linguistic groups, although this does not always determine the site's constituency. Orkut, for
example, was launched in the United States with an English-only interface, but Portuguese-speaking Brazilians quickly became the dominant user group. Some sites are designed with specific ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, political, or other identity-driven categories in mind. There are even SNSs for dogs (Dogster) and cats (Catster), although their owners must manage their profiles. While SNSs are often designed to be widely accessible, many attract homogeneous populations initially, so it is not uncommon to find groups using sites to segregate themselves by nationality, age, educational level, or other factors that typically segment society, even if that was not the intention of the designers.
EXAMPLES OF SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES
Orkut is an Internet social network service run by Google and named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Büyükkökten. It claims to be designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. Similar to Facebook, Friendster and MySpace, Orkut goes a step further by permitting the creation of easy-to-set-up simple forums (called "communities") of users. Since October 2006, Orkut has permitted users to create accounts without an invitation. Orkut is the most visited website in Brazil, being more visited than Google Brazil, number 2 on the list. In total visits, Google is probably still more popular since it appears as the second (the Brazilian version) and seventh most visited site (the international version). The initial target market for orkut was the United States, but the majority of its users are in Brazil. In fact, as of November 2007, 62.9% of the traffic come from Brazil, followed by 19.2% from India. In December 2007, Google dropped orkut from the drop-down menu of its international homepage.
Facebook is another example of social networking site. Developed by sophomore Mark Zuckerberg of Harvard University in 2004, Facebook.com was originally TheFacebook.com (Facebook, 2007). Purchasing the domain name of Facebook.com in August of 2005 for $200,000 the site was originally developed for college and university students as a way to connect with each other (Facebook, 2007). Hosting the most members for a college based social networking site, Facebook.com is also the number one site for uploading pictures, boasting several million uploads daily. Since its inception, Facebook.com has now been opened to anyone with a valid email address and offers its members options of joining the millions of networks of people with similar interests. It is said that 80% of Facebook.com users check their account daily and that 93% of Facebook.com users check their account at least monthly (Facebook, 2007) Facebook.com generates its revenue from advertisement since it boasts a huge number of registered users.
MySpace is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos internationally. It is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, USA, where it shares an office building with its immediate owner, Fox Interactive Media; in turn, the owner of Fox Interactive and therefore MySpace, News Corporation, is headquartered in New York City.
According to Alexa Internet, MySpace is currently the world's sixth most popular English-language website and the sixth most popular website in any language, and the third most popular website in the United States, though it has topped the chart on various weeks. The service has gradually gained more popularity than similar websites to achieve nearly 80 percent of visits to online social networking websites. The company employs 300 staff and does not disclose revenues or profits separately from News Corporation. With the 100 millionth account being created on August 9, 2006, in the Netherlands and a news story claiming 106 million accounts on September 8, 2006, the site reportedly attracts new registrations at a rate of 230,000 per day. As of December 18, 2007, there are over 300 million accounts.
hi5 is a social networking website, which, throughout 2007, was one of the 25 most visited sites on the web. The company was founded in 2002 by Ramu Yalamanchi who is also the current CEO. As of December 2007, hi5 had over 98 million members. In hi5, users create an online profile in order to show information such as interests, age and hometown and upload user pictures where users can post comments. hi5 also allows the user to create personal photo albums and set up a music player in the profile. Users can also send friend requests via e-mail to other users. When a person receives a friend request, he or she may accept or decline it, or block the user altogether. If the user accepts another user as a friend, the two will be connected directly or in the 1st degree. The user will then appear on the person's friend list and vice-versa. Some users opt to make their profiles available for everyone on hi5 to view. Other users exercise the option to make their profile viewable only to those people who are in their network. The network of friends consists of a user's direct friends (1st degree), the friends of those direct friends (2nd degree) and the friends of the friends of direct friends (3rd degree)
ISSUES OF CONCERN
Although many people don’t think of it, social networking web sites harbour many dangerous elements and many people are concerned about some major problems that they contain. One such problem is privacy issues. With social networking web sites like Orkut.com, Facebook.com and MySpace.com, it is almost too easy to retrieve personal information about someone and use it to harm them. In a case with MySpace.com, the availability of being able to customize one’s own site has allowed people to use phishing html code to create phishing profiles that allows that person to access anyone’s profile who have visited the phishing profile. Phishing can often lead to the loss of personal information such as usernames, credit card numbers, and passwords. (Phishing 2007) This in turn causes great privacy issues since that person can now access personal information and then
sell it off to marketing companies for a profit. (MySpace, 2007) This selling of information to companies has led to the rise in spam emails that we all receive. Another great issue of concern with social networking web sites is that of child safety. Research has shown that almost three out of every four teenagers who use social networking web sites are at risk due to their lack of using online safety. (Joly, Karine, 2007) A lot of the web sites do have an age requirement but it is easily bypassed by the lying about of one’s age. Even if they don’t lie about their age the average age requirement is around fifteen years old. Myspace.com has been specifically targeted for these child safety issues after a sixteen year old girl flew to Tel Aviv, Israel to meet and engage in sexual relations with a twenty year old male whom she had met through MySpace.com. (MySpace, 2007) Although a lot of the social networking web sites are trying to implement new ways to keep children safe, MySpace.com included, predators are finding ways around these new implementations and kids are still naive to the fact that not everyone online is who they say they are. A third issue of concern with social networking web sites is that of copyright infringement. With the massive amount of files shared through social networking web sites it has to tell sometimes who the original owner of the selected file is. Also, commercial products are being reproduced by individuals and uploaded to these social networking web sites. YouTube.com is a great example of how copy right infringement can come about using a social networking website. Members can pretty much upload anything they want on to YouTube.com to be viewed by anyone who comes across it. This leads to many people committing copyright infringement and uploading files and video clips that don’t belong to them. The only real way that copyright infringement is reported is through the self-policing of the YouTube community. (YouTube, 2007) With the easily missed copy right infringement YouTube has been sued many times in the past and is now being sued for over one billion dollars by Viacom on the claim that YouTube.com has 160,000 videos that belong to Viacom on their site without Viacom’s permission. (YouTube, 2007)
SNS IN INDIA:
In all the social networking phenomenon in India is small compared to the US (Indian social networking websites today claim a user base of around 3 million registered users) while MySpace, which has 106 million users and Orkut which has 67 million have far greater numbers. Clearly, Indian firms have a lot of work ahead of them in order to catch up. However, Siddhartha Roy, CEO, BigAdda, says optimistically: “We are early on the curve.” Alok Mittal, MD, Canaan Partners, a venture capital firm, says: “When you put that in context, Indian social networking websites are in their infancy. The break-even point is longer, but once they attain a critical mass of 40 million users, then VC firms will start investing in them.” Navin Mittal, CEO, fropper.com, says: “With the Indian Internet user-base negligible compared to the US or China, these are very early days.” The owner of the blog Trak.in does a great job of explaining the benefits of social networking for India and what it means for consumers and businesses.
Social networking sites, which allow users to build or be part of online communities, account for 44% of the country’s Internet traffic Social networking sites, which allow users to build or be part of online communities, account for 44% of the country’s Internet traffic, according to a report by consulting firm JuxtConsult Research and Consulting Pvt. Ltd. The space is dominated by global players such as Orkut, MySpace, Facebook and Hi5. Google Inc.’s Orkut, launched in 2004, isthe most popular social networking site among Indians with more than seven million users, but advertising is something the site has only recently dabbled with. “Nobody has made money on social networking so far,” Ajit Balakrishnan, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Rediff.com India Ltd, the company behind rediff.com, one of the earliest Indian dot-coms, had previously said. “But when 10 million people congregate, somewhere down the line the company will make money, and it will be advertiser-related, he had added. Rediff.com launched iShare, a video sharing platform, in July, and plans to add a social networking tool to it in the coming weeks. Indian firms and entrepreneurs entering the social networking space are convinced that they need to build up a critical mass of users first, and then worry about advertising. BigAdda.com, started by the Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s Reliance Entertainment three months ago, has about 700,000 users but no advertiser yet.
Similarly, one-year-old social networking site for students Minglebox.com has a user base that exceeds one million but no advertisers. “On the Internet, consumer is king. They decide where they want to spend their time and advertisers recognize that,” said Siddhartha Roy, chief operating officer, Big-Adda.com. “You want to first create a strong user base and give them an uninterrupted experience.” Kavita Iyer, CEO, Minglebox, agrees: “...In this business, users fluctuate from one site to another and it is important to first reach a certain level of stability and maturity before getting advertisers on board.” But some experts say that those scrambling to enter the social networking space have left it too late, and that plain vanilla social networking will, by itself, not work any longer. According to Balakrishnan, social networking has to become more than communication platform. “Social networking will have to be morphed into online initiative,” he had said. “It has a tendency to pick up fast but momentum just as fast. This is why we are integrating iShare with networking.” just a every loses social
That’s a strategy similar to the one adopted by Yahoo Inc. “We want to make Yahoo mail more social by combining properties such as SMS,instant messenger and emails together. It’s too early to tell what we’re planning on social networking, but it will be a convergence of communication channels,” John Kremer, vicepresident, Yahoo Mail, had previously said. Others are trying this as well. Ibibo Web Pvt. Ltd’s Ibibo.com is a multi-platform social interactive site with applications such as networking, blogging and gaming as some of its applications. “We’ve been around for seven months in India but I can tell you that it takes about two to three years of good consumer traction to drive revenues,” said Ashish Kashyap, CEO, Ibibo group. “It is important to create a picnic effect before we can get to advertisers,” he added. Advertisers themselves seem content with the picnic effect itself. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd has not yet bought into social networking from the advertising point of view, but it has bought into the concept. “Pepsi has not advertised on social networking sites so far but we have got what we wanted by users themselves creating discussion groups about the brand,” said a spokesperson for PepsiCo India. According to one expert, that may well indicate what social networking sites need to do to start earning revenues. “For advertisers, social networking sites are slow in generating revenues directly but they are good in influencing decisions,” said Gulrez Alam, group head, paid search, Communicate2, a paid-search marketing company. “Social media sites will soon have alternative revenue generating tactics that will help influence the user without intruding on the experience, that’s the way ahead.”
Almost half the Internet traffic generated in India is on account of social networking, and while this has not translated into advertising revenue so far, a pioneer in the country’s Internet space expects the situation to change.
How safe is your Orkut account?
Mayank Tewari/Dhananjay Khadilkar Sunday, December 23, 2007 03:07 IST A virus, which has been fixed by Google, had affected between 4 lakh to 7 lakh users MUMBAI: Google recently added a new feature on Orkut where users can post Active X Content on their friend’s scrapbook. But the feature turned out to be Google’s nemesis as an attacker used the vulnerability and posted a virus that affected between 4,00,000 to 7,00,000 Orkut users. Though Google managed to fix the bug on Thursday, the incident has highlighted the security aspects of social networking sites such as Orkut that have a huge following in countries like India. A Google official, who requested anonymity, admitted that because of this bug several people received scraps from friends, who claimed they had never posted any such scraps. “The newly introduced scrapbook feature had been exploited,” the official said. According to Chetan Gupta, a 26-year-old independent cyber security expert, “The feature allows users to post clips, songs, animation etc on their as well as other user’s scrapbooks,” he said. Users who were attacked got a message in their mailboxes informing them that someone had posted a scarp on their profile. The scrap, written in Portuguese, when translated into English reads: “2008 is coming… I wish that it begins quite well for you.” As soon as the user viewed the post, the virus downloaded a file to the user’s computer. The worm then took control of the user’s account and enlisted a group called ‘Infections pelo Vírus do Orkut’, which translates as ‘Infected by Orkut virus’. The virus also sent copies of itself to all the friends of the user and repeated the process. According to vnunet.com, the virus infected seven lakh Orkut users within 24 hours before Google was able to rectify the problem. The virus was not supposed to do any real harm to the users. The intent, according to a blog posting on Trend
Business Standard, January 25 '07 Thursday, 25 January 2007 Business Standard, Riding the networking wave Priyanka Joshi / New Delhi January 24, 2007 TECHNOLOGY: Want to get seen? Advertise on social networking sites. This, incidentally, is the new mantra of online advertisers. About 93 per cent of the 28 million Indians online belong to the age group 18-45 years — a target audience that has the maximum buying power. Ten million of these are hooked on to some form of online social media, be it personal, career or business networking, matrimonial sites, discussion rooms, virtual activity platforms, instant messenger, podcasts, RSS feeds and blogs. The mix of social media sites being a hot favourite among this bunch of young Indians, it presents a perfect milieu for online advertisers. Content-specific advertisements have become a rage on networking sites like Orkut, TechTribe, LinkedIn, Ryze, Flickr, MSN Live Spaces, Blogger, Fropper and Facebook, which are a compelling buy for advertisers seeking to target the active lifestyle set the sites cater to. In short, content-specific networks are riding a wave of popularity and newer networks seem to be springing up every day. Rajnish, head (digital marketing revenue and strategic business), MSN India, explains why marketers want to be seen on social networking sites: “In Asia, email and instant messaging take 40-50 per cent of the time we spend online. Blogosphere is doubling in size every six months and an average Indian user spends anywhere between 40-60 minutes daily on social media sites. Little wonder, banks, automobile companies, FMCGs, and even IT firms want a virtual advert that’s both engaging and innovative.”
Social media advertising has been taking the online advertising industry by storm. The total marketing spend on social media is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 106.1 per cent from 2005 to 2010, reaching $757 million in 2010, according to a report from PQ Media. Some social-networking communities focus on vertical markets with a narrowlydefined audience, such as business-relationship sites like LinkedIn and TechTribe. Their ad revenue exceeded $20 million in 2006. “There has been a recent ‘change of guard’ online with social networks — from being a ‘push’ medium to a ‘pull’ medium,” remarks Rajnish, “MSN is using people’s attention to engage users with advertisers through contextual advertising and desktop television.” The audiences, in return, generate revenues each time they click on a banner, keyword or a floating advertisement on a webpage. While online rate cards are not exactly cheap, averaging between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh, the prices are expected to get spiked by another 20-25 per cent by the end of 2007. Social-networking sites entice users to spend considerable time and view many page views, and many sites are seeing those numbers increase. Nielsen/Net Ratings reports that users’ visits to YouTube grew in duration from about 17 minutes to 28 minutes (64 per cent) over the first six months of 2006. Page views grew 515 per cent during the same period. Members of communities spend hours looking up friends’ profiles and following paths of interconnected relationships. These long visits and high page views directly correlate to ad revenue. Blog advertising, worldwide, totalled $25 million in 2006, which includes blogs, podcasts and RSS advertising. “By the tail-end of 2007, even Indian bloggers (the well known ones) would be making money out of advertising on their blogs, podcasts, videos, personal web pages and other forms of user generated content,” claims a media buyer. Anil Kaul, CEO, Absolute Data, a research and analytics firm, has helped websites and advertisers look beyond popular targeting options like geography and demography “using complex targeting options on networks, like behavioural and contextual and domain-level targeting. We have shown clients how to get the most from an online advert.”
The Perils Of Social Networking BY BRIAN DEAGON
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted 12/26/2007 In November, more than 145 million people worldwide logged onto at least one of the 20 most-visited social networking Web sites, says Nielsen/NetRatings. Brian Mann wasn't among them. It's not that Mann, founder of management consulting firm Midnight Oil, is opposed to networking. Developing relationships, getting referrals and connecting with potentially new clients is crucial to his business. He has as many as eight business-related meals a week. He regularly attends a weekly networking group in Los Angeles, where 55 professionals meet for Saturday breakfast to discuss trends in technology, media and entertainment. He visits trade shows, conferences and seminars to make connections. Yet he says social networking Web sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace, which let people post their profiles and potentially link up with hundreds of others, isn't for him.
"Networking to me means adding real, incremental value to the person you meet," Mann said. "You can't screen people on social networks the way you can in real life. "Social networks are not so much about quality as they are about quantity. And quantity means you have to kiss a lot of frogs with the hope that someday you'll find a prince." Social networking Web sites remain a social experiment. Whether these sites can maintain stickiness — keeping people coming back — is critical to keeping enough viewers to draw advertisers. But as Mann attests, not everyone likes the sites, for business or pleasure. Users of Facebook revolted when the firm unveiled Beacon, a system designed to catalog user activity and use the data so advertisers could more accurately track ads.
Privacy advocates and analysts said Beacon was far more invasive than the company implied. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg issued a public apology and changed the program so that only users who wanted to be part of Beacon were included in the program. "The push-back was strong," said Nicholas Givotovsky, an analyst with research firm Diffusion Group. "Sometimes what people want isn't directly in line with the business model of the company. Limits are being felt." A case in point to the limitations is a story told by Fons Tuinstra, director of speaker relations for China-based Chinabiz Speakers, on a recent Web posting titled "Why LinkedIn Does not Work for Me." Tuinstra used LinkedIn to see if his contacts on the site would help him connect to their contacts, in a bid to develop some business relationships. It didn't work. Turns out his contacts really didn't know the people they had listed as their contacts, or at least didn't know them well enough to feel comfortable forwarding Tuinstra's request. Wrote Tuinstra: "A large number of people . . . have so many contacts that they cannot realistically know them personally." Tuinstra then offered this advice: "You should only add people you really know to your contact list." Then there's the case of a man we'll call John Doe, since he spoke on condition he not be identified. On Facebook, John had linked to a female acquaintance that another friend recommended, thinking she might become a client down the road.
When her photo popped up on John's Facebook page one time, John's girlfriend happened to see it, and asked about her. "My girlfriend began to think I had a secret life," he said. So John invited his girlfriend to check out his new friend's Facebook page, to learn that the connection was a professional contact. But John himself had failed to check out his new friend's Facebook page thoroughly. And the friend had several racy photos of herself on the site, which his girlfriend saw, adding to her suspicions. "Things escalated, and it ended up with my girlfriend leaving me," John said.
That example is among the reasons Mann and others avoid social networks. "You can end up putting control into the hands of people who don't have your best interest at heart," Mann said. "You can end up destroying your brand quicker than anything else."Analyst Givotovsky advises caution. "You can't treat social networking with the casualness you would a video game," he said. "People need to think hard about how they spend their time in the digital world, on what terms and what mechanisms they use."
Networks and Network Structure Social network sites also provide rich sources of naturalistic behavioural data. Profile and linkage data from SNSs can be gathered either through the use of automated collection techniques or through datasets provided directly from the company, enabling network analysis researchers to explore large-scale patterns of finding, usage, and other visible indicators (Hogan, in press), and continuing an analysis trend that started with examinations of blogs and other websites. For instance, Golder, Wilkinson and Huberman (2007) examined an anonym zed dataset consisting of 362 million messages exchanged by over four million Facebook users for insight into Finding and messaging activities. Lampe, Ellison, and Steinfield (2007) explored the relationship between profile elements and number of Facebook friends, finding that profile fields that reduce transaction costs and are harder to falsify are most likely to be associated with larger number of friendship links. These kinds of data also lend themselves well to analysis through network visualization. SNS researchers have also studied the network structure of Friendship. Analyzing the roles people played in the growth of Flicker and Yahoo! 360's networks, Kumar, Novak, and Tomkins (2006) argued that there are passive members, inviters, and linkers "who fully participate in the social evolution of the network". Scholarship concerning Live Journal's network has included a Friendship classification scheme (Hsu, Lancaster, Paradesi, & Weniger, 2007), an analysis of the role of language in the topology of Friendship (Herring et al., 2007), research into the importance of geography in Friending (Liben-Nowell, Novak, Kumar, Raghavan, & Tomkins, 2005), and studies on what motivates people to join particular communities (Backstrom, Huttenlocher, Kleinberg, & Lan, 2006). Based on Orkut data, Spertus, Sahami, and Büyükkökten (2005) identified a topology of users through their membership in certain communities; they suggest that sites can use this to recommend additional communities of interest to users. Finally, Liu, Maes, and Davenport (2006) argued that Friend connections are not the only network structure worth investigating. They examined the ways in which the performance of tastes (favorite music, books, film, etc.) constitutes an alternate network structure, which they call a "taste fabric." Bridging Online and Offline Social Networks Although exceptions exist, the available research suggests that most SNSs primarily support pre-existing social relations. Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe (2007)
suggest that Facebook is used to maintain existing offline relationships or solidify offline connections, as opposed to meeting new people. These relationships may be weak ties, but typically there is some common offline element among individuals who friend one another, such as a shared class at school. This is one of the chief dimensions that differentiate SNSs from earlier forms of public CMC such as newsgroups (Ellison et al., 2007). Research in this vein has investigated how online interactions interface with offline ones. For instance, Lampe, Ellison, and Steinfield (2006) found that Facebook users engage in "searching" for people with whom they have an offline connection more than they "browse" for complete strangers to meet.
Popular press coverage of SNSs 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 SNSs. In one of the first academic studies of privacy and SNSs, Gross and Acquisti (2005) 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. Acquits and Gross (2006) argue that there is often a disconnect between students' desire to protect privacy and their behaviours, 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. In another study examining security issues and SNSs, Jagatic, Johnson, Jakobsson, and Menczer (2007) used freely accessible profile data from SNSs to craft a "phishing" scheme that appeared to originate from a friend on the network; their targets were much more likely to give away information to this "friend" than to a perceived stranger. Survey data offer a more optimistic perspective on the issue, suggesting that teens are aware of potential privacy threats online and that many are proactive about taking steps to minimize certain potential risks. Pew found that 55% of online teens have profiles, 66% of whom report that their profile is not visible to all Internet users (Lenhart & Madden, 2007). Of the teens with completely open profiles, 46% reported including at least some false information.
UTILIZATION IN BUSINESS There are many ways that business’ can use social networking web sites to their advantage but we are going to focus on three. The first aspect of a business that could use a social networking website for would be the hiring of employees. Such sites as Monster.com actually help many people searching for jobs and many companies looking for employees to find each other. It’s as simple as creating your own resume and putting it out there. Monster.com then takes your resume and compares it to the needs and wants that companies have posted on the web site and connects the company with people who meet or exceed their posted standards. This a lot faster and involves a more broad spectrum of resources for which a company can use to find the perfect employee. Another aspect of business affected by social networking websites is marketing. With the millions of people that use social networking web sites, what better way to market your product then by buying space on those web sites? Whether it’s through banners or links millions of people will view your ads should they be placed on a social networking website. An example is that of 1up.com. Through its great reputation to gamers many gaming companies are willing to spend thousands of dollars for advertising space since they know that gamers who view the web site will most likely learn about their product. Not only is online advertising more effective than commercial advertising such as TV ads and magazines, it’s also more cost effective and reaches far more people than other forms of advertising. An example of the effectiveness of internet advertising is YouTube.com in which experts have estimated that “Given its traffic levels, video streams and page views, some have calculated that YouTube's potential revenues could be in the millions per month.” (YouTube, 2007) A third aspect of business that is affected by social networking websites is that of fair pricing. With so many businesses’ out there creating virtually the same product it’s easy for one to get lost in the broad spectrum of products. With social networking websites people can get advice from experts, gain knowledge of product through others who have used it, and get reviews on nearly anything that is mass produced today. This in turn is also great for businesses. With all this information out there concerning products it’s easy for a company to look through it and see what customers want and for how much. This in turn leads to better products being made to suit the customers’ needs and wants.
ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
The popularity of the social networking sites is immense, specially amongst the youth. The sample chosen had a majority of students from the B-Schools. Analysis of the data tells us that 98% of the students uses at least one of the networking sites. Male Female 69 31
31% m ale fem ale 69%
below 15 yrs 15-19 yrs 20-24 yrs 25-29 yrs 30 yrs and above
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2 0
2 0 64 28 1
below 15 yrs 15-19 yrs 20-24 yrs 25-29 yrs 30 yrs and above
below 15 yrs
1 30 yrs and above
UNDERGRADUATE (a) GRADUATE (b) POSTGRADUATE (c) Of all the respondents 58% were postgraduate.
0 58 42 graduate while the rest i.e. 42 % were
How many sites do the respondents use?
59% of the respondents use only 1 site regularly, 2% using no such networking sites and 39% of them using more than 1 site. Out of the ones who use more than one site, 31% amongst them use two sites and 5 % use three sites with an exception of 3% use four and above networking sites. sites Options used 4 or a above b 3 c 2 d 1 e 0 percentag e 3 5 31 59 2
Number of nteworking sites used
70 60 percentage users 50 40 30 20 10 0 1 2 3 number of sites used 4 5
By this we infer that although these networking sites are getting very popular these days, most of the students use one site with the second majority being of those who use two networking sites.
Now we will analyze which sites are the most popular ones.
Sites Only Orkut Orkut Facebook Yaari My space Hi5 Users 57 94 34 6 6 6
Popularity of sites
100 90 80 70 60 Percentage users 50 40 30 20 10 0
94 57 34 6 Only Orkut Orkut Facebook Yaari 6 My space 6 Hi5
Orkut is a hands down winner in this regard. One major interpretation here is that 59% users who use only 1 networking sites, 99% of them use orkut. Considering the overall data, 94% students seem to use orkut site which makes it the most popular one. The second most popular is facebook which is used by 34% people followed by a 6% share by each yaari, myspace and Hi5.
The number of hours spent on these networking sites should be analyzed here to determine what impact it would have on the users. The more the time spent, more probability of these sites being beneficial is there.
Hours per week 15 or above 10 to 14 6 to 9 3 to 5 1 to 2 less than 1
Respondents 13 15 22 24 18 8
The majority of the students spend on an average of about 6 to 9 hours every day surfing these networking sites. Amongst those about 28% users spend more than 1 hour everyday, ranging between 10 to over 15 hours being spent every week.
The next question that arises is what else these students would be doing if not surfing on these sites during that time. When we asked that question during the survey, we arrived at a number of such things. Activites Studying Socialising Constructive work Reading novels Others Percentage 18 48 11 22 8
Most of the students would use the spare time for Socialising or hanging out with friends if they were not using these networking sites. 40% were of the opinion that they would be studying or reading novels and books which means that these networking sites are leaving the students with less time to study and to read books and novels. 8% said that they would be doing some other things like social work, sports, pursuing their hobbies etc.
What is it that attracts the students to spend time surfing rather than doing other things mentioned above. Some said it was because they could make more friends, some said it was easier for them to stay in touch with their existing friends, for others it was to find old friends, to share a love relationship with or to find and interact with people with common interests.
Let us see what made these sites the most attractive:
Usage to make new friends to find old friends to communicate with existing friends for relationships to find people with common interests Percentage 20 52 60 6 8
This shows that the desire to find old friends along with the need to communicate with the existing friends is making more and more students use these networking sites. In only rare case, people are looking for relationships over there. Also 20% tend to use these sites for making new friends.
The impact on youth can also be determined by analysing if these people have met anyone in personal through these networking sites.
Who met through networking sites Who did not meet through these sites
About 29% of the users have met someone personally through these networking sites which is a huge number as it takes a lot of trust in meeting someone personally. Here, the question arises regarding safety and trust as a lot of people fake their profiles.
For some, these networking sites make them feel comfortable in their sexuality. For 49%, it is easier for them to be themselves while interacting through these sites. It raises question as to how real they are while they act with people in personal or in their normal routine life.
The networking sites for sure have some beneficial effects on the users. Lets examine now how these social sites have benefited the users.
BENEFITS More friends Better connectivity Found my life partner Enjoy leisure or time when I am alone Link with prospective recruiters
USERS 25% 63% 1% 22% 7%
Better connectivity is what these sites definitely provide. Also people seem to have more friends through their use. It happens due to finding out old friends and also remaining in close connection with the old as well as the existing friends. This also gives its users a way to enjoy themselves or the leisure time when they are alone. They can be themselves and also remain in touch with friends at the same time. Another benefit is the opportunity to connect with the prospective recruiters and to find employment through these sites. Only an exception of 1% found their life partners through this. As per the survey, 80% of the people find that there is no as such negative impact in their personal life. Only 20% of the sample population feels that there is a negative impact on their personal lives.
NEGATIVE IMPACT (a) POSITIVE IMPACT (b) 20 80
NE GATIVE IMPACT (a) POS ITIVE IMPACT (b)
From that of 20%, 55% feels that loss of time is the major cause of negative impact while 20% feels its loss of privacy and 15% feels that it makes them more dependent on electronic medium. Only 5% of the 20% people feel that it creates some emotional disturbance or less emotional bonding in relationships.
IF YES %AGE LOSS OF PRIVACY (a) 4 LOSS OF TIME (b) 11 RELIANCE ON ELECTRONIC MEDIUM (C) 3 LESS EMOTIONAL BOND IN RELATION (d) 1 ANY OTHER (e) 1
LOSS OF PRIVACY (a) LOSS OF TIME (b) RELIANCE ON ELECTRONIC MEDIUM (C) LESS EMOTIONAL BOND IN RELATION (d) ANY OTHER (e) 5% 5% 20% 15%
There was no clear view that came out of the survey regarding the stand whether parent’s discretion and monitoring is required while there children use these social networking sites. Because 48% of the respondents thought that it is required while 52% said that they don’t think it is correct. PARENT'S DISCRETION AND MONITERING REQUIRED YES (a) 48 NO(b) 52
YES (a) NO(b)
The survey also shows that only 36 people feel that social networking sites invade in their privacy. When we looked at the specific question asking about if parents discretion and monitoring is required in this case for children using these sites, we get almost 48 saying definitely yes. So we see that these things indicate that there is no as such anything wrong with the social networking sites and people find it useful too.
IF THERE IS INVASION OF PRIVACY YES (a) NO (b)
It clearly shows that social networking sites are having no crucial negative impact on people’s life.
Influence of networking sites on lifestyle:
Social networking sites have some or the other sort of influence on the lifestyle of the people. While some people did not feel that it influences the lifestyle as they use these networking sites just for connecting with friends and did not feel its influence on their lifestyle. On the other hand, those who feel that it has some influence on their lifestyle had a lot to share. The responses suggest that some people have got addicted to the
networking sites and use them more often and as such their life is completely influenced by these. People find it trendy to use these networking sites and being a member of the sites is considered trendy and in vogue thing. Some people surf these sites to interact with people with similar preferences and it helps in their decision-making ability. They take the views and suggestions of the people before taking any such decisions and feel quite comfortable with it. Some people get knowledge about latest trends in fashion, electronic gadgets etc. The most staggering influence of these networking sites for some people is the use of abbreviated words like ‘d’ for ‘the’ and likewise. They tend to use the similar words in their day to day life and even in official communication and often have suffered due to this. For students, it often comes across during exams. Some people use abusive words to vent out their feelings on these networking sites and the same has been seen in their personal life of late. Certain people often use communities to dishonour their teachers and bosses or use badmouthing words for even celebrities and sports stars.
Negative/bad experience from networking sites:
Generally the networking sites have been of great utility to the users and they have found it of immense importance. But some people have had bad experiences from these networking sites. These bad experiences have been seen observed more by the female users than male users. The verification of genuine identity of the people is a problem. Many users have suffered from the same. People pose as someone else and tend to seek personal or confidential knowledge. This has led to breach of trust of a section of respondents. The albums are accessible to everyone and as
such the pictures can be easily copied and have even been distorted in some cases and put on fake profiles. Same is the case with scrapbooks or message boxes which is visible to everyone. Information meant for one person is visible to everyone and is often harmful in relations. Some unknown people also put their comments on the scrapbooks to attract undue attention. The language is also offensive on many occasions. The communities have even created furore over national and religious sentiments. Due to absence of any strict monitoring, communities targeted to humiliate one or the other community has mushroomed. Communities like “I hate Muslims” or “I hate Hindus” have created differences among the people and have often invited unwanted tension and rift. Some community had an Indian flag burning which shook the entire users of India and the national sentiments as a whole.
Social networking sites have become a way of expression for some individuals. They feel that life would have been incomplete without these sites. These have shrunk the entire world and provided a common platform for all. Some people find it very important in this age of ever changing world where people move from one place to another very frequently. It has also bridged borders and brought about cross-cultural understanding and sensitivity. The need is to utilize it effectively for good reasons and find ways to curb its negative influence. The situation also demands some kind of moral trafficking and policing to regulate its use. Even the use of a social security number or some unique national identity could be asked for while opening an account to prevent its misuse. Privacy is a concern which some of the sites like Orkut have got sensitized to and are providing security option to the users as to enable them use it as per their own discretion and avoid mishandling of their information or pictures, etc. All the uses of these networking sites vary from person to person and their mentalities. Like each system has its good things as well as bad things, these sites
also have both the aspects. It now depends on the individual how well they are going to use the same. Effective utilization is the source to gaining maximum advantage out of these networking sites.
LIMITATIONS 1. The sample size that we have taken is 100 which we are assuming that it is homogeneous and enough to carryout the research. 2. Most of the sample population consists of students and hence our research mainly focuses on students using social networking sites. 3. The analysis done is mainly judgmental in nature. 4. The concept of social networking sites is not very old in India thus not much of research has been done in regards to its effects. 5. The expertise of the questionnaire design is limited. 6. The underlying assumption is that the survey conducted in limited area represents the general psyche of the users of the social networking site.
A social networking web site is an online community in which people can connect to others with similar interests. Since their start in 1995 with Classmates.com, social networking web sites have grown enormously to include such huge sites today as hi5.com, Facebook.com, and orkut.com. Through these sites businesses’ can use social networking web sites to connect to potential employees, market new products, and get feedback on their current products as well as new ideas for future products. Although there are many valuable assets to social networking web sites, there are also major issues that the sites must address such as the protection of private information, the protection of children, and the protection of copyrighted material. Although they have issues, social networking web sites are still one of the best inventions of the modern era because they connect so many people.
The work described above contributes to an on-going dialogue about the importance of social network sites, both for practitioners and researchers. Vast, uncharted waters still remain to be explored. Methodologically, SNS researchers' ability to make causal claims is limited by a lack of experimental or longitudinal studies. Although the situation is rapidly changing, scholars still have a limited understanding of who is and who is not using these sites, why, and for what purposes. Such questions will require large-scale quantitative and qualitative research. We hope that our findings and the work described here will help build a foundation for future investigations of these and other important issues surrounding social network sites.
Some ideas for future research for social networking websites would be personal contact offices to register on these sites to determine the legitimacy of the person who is trying to register. Although this would most likely end up a great hassle, it would provide the best security out there for people who are trying to have safe fun and connect with people that share similar interests and ideas. Another future tool social networking websites could use would be a licensing agreement with certain parties to prevent copyright infringement from happening on the Internet.
Here are some ‘Golden Rules of Networking’ that we suggest to be followed:
1. Help without expecting immediate returns – you never know, if the small favour you give to other person might get you his recommendation for the coveted position in his company a few years down the line. 2. Pursue excellence in all you do – ensure that people recommend you because of your good work 3. Be genuine – people will see through your façade sooner or later To summarize at this point-
1. Use each interaction with someone as an opportunity to network – to build a relationship 2. Base these interactions on the 3 principles to increase your effectiveness at networking. But…Wait a minute! Aren’t we missing something? Ah….it’s the People to build a network with!!
Name: 1. Do you use any social networking sites?
a. Yes b. No If yes, continue. Otherwise terminate. 2. How many social networking sites do you use actively? a. 4 and above b. 3 c. 2 d. 1
3. Select the sites that you use: a. Orkut b. Facebook c. Yaari d. Myspace e. Hi5
f. Any others (please specify)_________________________________
4. How many hours per week do you spend on using these sites? a. 15 and above 1 b. 10- 14 c. 6-9 d. 3-5 e. 1-2 f. less than
5. If you were not using these sites, what would you have done to utilise that time? a. studying b. hanging out with friends/socialising d. reading novels c. doing more
constructive work specify)__________
e. Any others( please
6. What do you use social networking sites for? a. to make new friends existing friends b. to find old friends c. to communicate with
d. to find someone I can share a relationship with
e. to interact with people with common interests
7. Have you ever met someone in person that you have come to know through a social network site? a. Yes b. No
8. Do you think social network sites help you to feel comfortable in your sexuality? a. Yes b. No
9. How has social networking sites benefited you as a user? a. I have more friends
b. I am able to connect easily with my existing friends. c. I have found a life-partner through these sites. d. I find it a great way to enjoy my leisure or whenever I am alone. e. Link with prospective recruiters and find employment.
10. Do you feel these networking sites have created any negative impact on your
personal life? a. Yes b. No
If yes, then what do you feel can be these impacts? a. Loss of privacy medium b. Loss of time c. More reliance on electronic
d. Less emotional bonding in relations e. Emotional disturbance
e. Any others ( please specify)___________________________
11. Do you think that there is invasion of privacy through these networking sites? a. Yes b. No
12. Do you feel that parents’ discretion and monitoring is required in this case for children using these sites? a. Yes b. No
13. Do these networking sites influence your lifestyle in any way? a. Yes b. No
If yes, how will you describe the influence? _________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________
14. Have you ever had any negative/bad experience from these networking sites? a. Yes b. No
If yes, would you please describe the same? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________
15. Any other insights you would like to provide? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________ 16. Gender? a. Male
b. Female c. 20-24yrs d. 25- 29yrs e. 30yrs and
17. What is your age-group? a. Below 15 yrs b.15-19 yrs above
18. What is your educational qualification? a. Undergraduate b. Graduate c. Post Graduate
19. What is your profession? a. Business Others b. Pvt. Organigation c. Govt Service d. Student e.
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