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Executive Summary There are numerous misconception about the Facebook Generation, among others, that individuals under

this cohort have high sense of entitlement, lack of respect to authority, no self-discipline and lazy. Added with the technological advancement that allows mankind to socialize basically virtually, this generation, thus known as Facebook Generation, is known seen as androids, because they are wired all the time. Lastly, the rise of social network sites has been closely related to the latter and former, some even suggests that social networking is a bad thing. This paper seeks to provide a brief analysis on both the Facebook Generation and the effects of social network sites. Several literatures are gathered and analysed to root out whether there is a consensus in the generalisation of Facebook Generation traits. The same method is again used to see how the social network sites affect this generation. The paper found that belongs to the generation and some characteristics are unique. The generation is named after a social network site, Facebook, and it did belong to the cohorts. After all, this generation created it, uses it daily and virtually living in it, more than others do. However extensive use of this service is not healthy, especially with cyber crime rate on the rise. The users as well as the provider have to step up their security, both internally and externally to avoid being a victim of these cyber attacks. In the other hand, interested parties of whom may concern this generation may acknowledge their unique attributes and reinventing the environment to cater this generation. After all, they are the key to the future.

Reality of virtuality: The Facebook Generation and social network effect Mohd Adi Mohd Kamal Arlina Erwany Azmi Nurliyana Mohammad Graduate Students, Faculty of Business Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam, Malaysia

Abstract Purpose This introduction seeks to provide a brief analysis to the previous literatures on the Facebook Generation and social network sites effect on the generation and society. Research limitations There seem to be lack of generational cohort study in Malaysian context. Therefore, some of the data are based on literatures of foreign countries. And Facebook are taken as the main illustration of the workings of social network sites. Practical implications - The results will provide insights on the traits and psychology of the new entrants of workforce and some, adulthood. Originality/value The paper facilitates the critical understanding of the Generation Facebook and the impact of social network sites to this group, in the Malaysian context. Keywords Generation Facebook, Generation Y, Facebook, Generational cohorts theory, Social networking sites, Personality, Psychology Paper type Conceptual paper

Introduction The future is in the air, I can feel it everywhere. Blowing the wind of change, sang Klause Maine, the vocalist of a heavy metal band Scorpion in their song Wind of Change (released in year 1990), which is still one of the best selling single of all time. The song serenaded the importance of the children of that time, to be the wind of change. Nobody knew that the song would be some sort of an accidental prophecy, whereby the children did bring in the wind of change, almost two decades later. The children of 1990, now have grown and popularly referred to as Generation Y, now, Facebook Generation. The changes they made alter history and some are even unprecedented. It can be argued that each generation

has their own contribution to the history of mankind, but none had made it collectively, as Generation Y did. Early 2008 in Egypt, a young social network user name Esra Abdul Fattah (also known then-after as the Facebook Girl) was detained by the authority and accused of masterminding a nationwide strike, but all she had done was create a virtual solidarity group on Facebook and invited some friends (McKay, 2008). This has attracted the attention of domestic and international mainstream media challenging Egyptian censorship policy, turning The Facebook Girl into an overnight poster girl for resistance and resilience against corruption and injustice. Two years later, the Egyptian government (under then, President Hosni Mubarak) was topped by the Egyptian Revolution, a (mainly) non-violent civil resistance and uprising, which ironically also started by social networking movements. In Malaysian context, the Malaysia 12th General Election (or better known as the Malaysian Political Tsunami) of 2008 also has shown not only of the importance of the younger Malaysians virtual voices, but also their significant attachment to the virtual world (i.e. internet, blog, social networks). Last but not least, US President Barrack Obama had also won the presidency due to his open approach in using the internet as one of his main campaigning tools to gain support of the young voters. In other other note, according to Eric Schmidt, outgoing CEO of Google, in August 2010 (cited in Glen, 2011): There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawns of civilization through to 2003, but that much information is now created every two days, and the pace is increasing. Maybe, social network sites and blogs, Facebook especially, is the string that holds the present and future altogether.

Facebook Generation: Traits and characteristics Only recently this cohort group is coined as Generation Facebook (Glen, 2011), but previously they have been widely referred to as Generation Y (PricewaterhouseCooper, 2009). Other equivalent terms are Echo Boomers, the Millennium Generation, Generation Next and Generation Why (Sheahan, 2006, cited in Macky, Gardner, and Forsyth, 2008). In United Kingdom, this group is the earliest adopters of social media (thus the term Facebook Generation) and now responsible for more than a quarter of the UKs 30 million Facebook accounts (Experian, 2011). Experts say that personality and beliefs are developed from experiences that the individual faced while growing up. Facebook Generation differs from other generations before them in terms of mindset is due to their upbringing with, or at least, along the information communication technology (ICT) filled environment (Muhammad Nizam

and Mohd Rozaini, 2010). They grew up also along with MTV and electronic gadgets, then became more cultural-liberal than their forefathers, and have high political awareness due to major historical events (i.e. 9/11 terrorists attack, Palestine-Israel crisis, Malaysian reformation, Malaysias political tsunami, etc). Kane (n.d.) summarized the Facebook Generation as the most technological savvy, family-centric, achievement oriented, team oriented and attention craving. Facebook Generation is also the most intellectual and open generation thus far because of the information channels that are available to them. Statistics shows that 21% of Facebook Generation owns a hand-held computer (i.e. laptops and tablets), 100% owns a mobile phone, and 96% has a social network profile (PricewaterhouseCooper, 2009). To illustrate better the Facebook Generation, there is none better candidate than the Facebook creator himself, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg. And what better way to find personal information these days than the Facebook itself (http://www.facebook.com/zuck?sk=info). However, for the purpose of rigor of information, the paper has counter checked this information with other sources as well. Mark was from Dobs Ferry, New York and born on May 14th, 1984. According to his Facebook profile, he is the founder and CEO of Facebook, now the largest social network site with an estimate of 800 million active users (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet). He is by far the youngest billionaire ever, reaching that mark when he was 23. His interest seems to be, among other things, are making things, minimalism, openness and revolutions. Taking an extract from his Facebook profile, to sum everything about him, his view on himself is Im trying to make the world a more open space, just as a true Facebook Generation is. He had stayed true to his purpose of making Facebook a public domain by rejecting lucrative offers. But at the same time, he allegedly betrayed a few friends (i..e fellow founder, Eduardo Severin), along the way, to make his billions. Last but not least, according to Time magazine
(http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2036683_2037181_203717 9,00.html), Mark Zuckerberg is both the product of his generation and the architect of it.

The social network effects The recent trend using social network sites is a globally widespread phenomenon. Social network sites such as Facebook, Friendster, MySpace and Twitter are popular among millions of users around the globe. Social network sites are used to build relationships, to communicate and share information, multimedia contents and daily happenings, and to increase their social networks for personal or business purposes (Wong, Lean & Fernandez, 2011). This exemplify by the recent statistics on Facebook whereby it was found out that

57%

of

people

talk

to

the

others

online,

more

than

they

do

in

real

life

(http://www.onlineschools.org/blog/facebook-obsession/). Most of the younger generation has dual identity; the ones that they are born as, and another is the one they created virtually. To some extent, some of them use their virtual identity more than they live in the real world. Some took advantage of being this other person virtually to become criminals according to cyber criminal agents, the age of persons engaging in passwords hacking, data thefts, illegal Internet access is about 16-23 years (http://www.crimeresearch.org/news/2003/06/Mess1403.html). Figure 1: Facebook users age groups, by country (as March 01, 2010)

(Source: Lim Yung Hui, 2010. The Social Web Journal: Facebook in Asia: Total Users and Age Groups)

As

the

statistics

has

shown,

70%

of

Facebook

users

are

from

outside

US

(http://www.onlineschools.org/blog/facebook-obsession/). In Asia, Facebook is fast becoming the one the regions leading social networks. Malaysia has the fifth highest number of Facebook users in Asia, with 5.1 million (Lim, 2010). As in 2011, the Department of Statistics has recorded that Malaysias population is currently 28,728,607. And over the population, there are 11,221,040 Facebook users recorded as in June 2011

(http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia.htm). Out of this, over 45% Malaysian are in the age range of 18-29, which is in the Facebook Generation cohort. Figure 2: Descriptive information obtained from public Facebook profiles.

(Source: Kincheleo, Weed and Lack, n.d.) As Figure 2 has shown, social networking sites, especially Facebook is mainly used for social interaction. Commenting on their profile has shown to be the most popular usage on Facebook (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/facebook-statistics-stats-facts-2011/). However a further study by Kincheleo, Weed and Lack (n.d.) has shown particularly worrisome results. Users are open to share almost every personal detail (i.e. birthdays, relationship status, and personal photographs) that could be misused by others. Adding to the attention craving nature of Facebook Generation, they are prone to be reckless in sharing information in their account, sometimes inappropriate or unprofessional (when it needs to be). They dissociate their online selves from their real-world selves. This is not the case however, because it is all too simple for someone to take content from online and bring it into real life context to use any way they see fit. In another context, the study found that there is no discretion in the usage of social network, whereby respondents are at times, posted confidential and sensitive information that they

may not be authorized to reveal. And taking that into account, the possibility of cyber crime is enormous if ones authority and particulars (i.e. name, address, email, etc) in an institution/organization is public information (through social network). Without proper security arrangement on both social network provider and user, cyber criminals will seek and take this opportunity willingly. Lastly, the social network users must learn to understand that they must be accountable for their action as much as there is consequences in each wall posts.

Conclusion: Lindsey Pollak (cited in The GMP Group and Temasek Polytechnic, 2009) said that when it comes to dealing with Facebook Generation, what used to be common sense isnt common sense anymore.This much can be proven when terms such as texting and tweeting are no longer some ridiculous urban lingo of the youngsters, but rather well established words in English language. Social networks, especially the Facebook is now being used extensively not only for social interactions and entertainments, but also for business activities and recently, as a political campaigning tools (Baxter, Marcella and Varfis, 2011; Wong, Lean & Fernandez, 2011). This is strengthening by the fact that the Facebook Generation is young and restless. They want to work, but they don't want work to be their life (Armour, 2005; PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), 2010). In the other hand, they value highly of their social network identity as much as they value life. Interested parties, not exclusively political ones, must acknowledge and embrace this concept in order to capture this generation attention. Once attention is captured, given the right medium and tools, these parties will realised that this generation is not only different but also has the most potential to succeed (PricewaterhouseCooper, 2009). However, be very cautious in dealing with this generation,

Recommendation These recommendations may vary according to the interest of the parties to engage in the generation (i.e. governments, private organizations, education institutions, political parties, etc): Information privacy and security Firstly, privacy is the main concern of the Facebook Generation. Most of them at times did not realize that they have risks themselves by being to open to the social networking world. Awareness should be made to both the Facebook Generation as well to the social networking sites. Facebook, for example, should work on the safety issue and provide clear

information about related settings. They should also constantly upgrade their privacy and security setting so that unauthorized personnel could not gain access to these private informations. Secondly, gaps in existing technologies still need to be addressed or revised, in order to make social networking as platforms that are more tailored to the needs of Facebook Generation that need to be developed. These tools need to provide greater security and control for IT organizations to provide better service. Tools enabling support for virtualization and cloud computing infrastructures are starting to enter the market so that the Facebook Generation would still be themselves (i.e. virtually attached) and at the same time, be totally secured. Virtual Cubicle Facebook Generation is the most tech-savvy generation, so far. The management can incorporate this and benefit from both worlds. Develop and interact the Facebook Generation like any other employees, but at the same time, connect with them virtually. Prompt a site that specifically built for the organisation that encouraged superior-subordinates interaction. The management think out-of-the-box, whereby tasks that are of no priority could be given the leniency to be completed at home, rather than in the office. Submissions can be channelled through e-mails and sent directly to the superiors smartphone. Given the current trend of telecommuting, this could be the future of the working environment. If the right formula can be created by the management, this could save the organisations millions of ringgit in overtime pay whilst not putting the productivity in jeopardy. The employers are encouraged to design the work that could cater them this. After all, they are the future of the business. This is optional, but any employer that could provide this, and aligning it with their business activities, could see themselves moving into a whole new level of competitiveness. Facebook and Google have done this. And Dell Malaysia has also started to allow employees to telecommute. Virtual cubicle might not be a too far of a distance, after all. Freedom of information The Facebook Generation is all about the openness of information, though sometimes be inappropriate and risky. However, governments and other authorities (school administrator, educational institution, employer, etc) should not be to rigid in handling this. They have to fair but firm. Firm in terms of providing rules about sharing information that may be illegal or unethical (e.g. companys business plan, racial comments, etc). However, they must also be fair in term of giving the Facebook Generation platform to voice their concern and express themselves. The authorities could also engage this group and interact with them, virtually. In Malaysian context, ever since the 12th General Election, the Government has learnt their lesson and started to engage the virtual world as part of their own. Most ministries,

government agencies as well as the person-in-charge (Minister, CEO, etc) has their own Facebook profile or fan page. Through this, the public may voice out their concern and the authority may answer them instantly and most importantly, virtually.

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