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Social Networking Sites Essay

580 words - 2 pages

Social Network Sites: A DefinitionWe 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 ofother users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list ofconnections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature ofthese connections may vary from site to site.While we use the term "social network site" to describe this phenomenon, the term "socialnetworking sites" also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often usedinterchangeably. We chose not to employ the term "networking" for two reasons: emphasisand scope. "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 meetstrangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their socialnetworks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise bemade, 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, theyare primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended socialnetwork. To emphasize this articulated social network as a critical organizing feature ofthese sites, we label them "social network sites."While SNSs have implemented a wide variety oftechnical features, their backboneconsists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends1who are also users ofthe system. Profiles are unique pages where one can "type oneself into being" (Sundén,2003, p. 3). After joining an SNS, an...

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