Social networking
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Social Networking. Mrs Mici Halse ( [email protected] ). Resources?. The course web page is at There is no prescribed textbook . Outline. Introduction Social Networking Services ( SNSs ) SNS Examples MySpace Qzone Orkut Habbo

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Social networking

Social Networking

Mrs MiciHalse ([email protected])


The course web page is at

There is no prescribed textbook.


  • Introduction

  • Social Networking Services (SNSs)

    • SNS Examples

    • MySpace

    • Qzone

    • Orkut

    • Habbo

    • Flickr

    • LastFM

    • LiveJournal

    • deviantART

    • LinkedIn

    • Facebook

  • A Critical Look at some SNS Issues: Case Study: Facebook

    • Criticism of Facebook

    • Privacy vs Openness

    • OpenID

  • Meta SNSs

    • Ning

  • Network Analysis: Social Networks

    • Basic Graph Theory

    • Metrics for Analysing Graphs - Degree centrality, Betweenness centrality, Closeness centrality


  • Boyd & Ellison (2007) define Social Networking Services (SNSs) as “web-based services that allow individuals to

    • (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,

    • (2) create 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.”

  • SNSs display these connections publicly (at least to some extent) which

    • lets users traverse the network-graph

    • provides mechanisms to allow users to communicate with one another by leaving comments or sending messages.


  • the other users with whom someone shares a connection are usually called friends. Friends provide context -> imagined/virtual audience -> guides behavioural norms on the network

  • SNSs support pre-existing social relations (common offline element more than total strangers)

  • help to maintain and strengthen ties, and improve communication and the sharing of ideas and resources amongst members.

  • growing in popularity worldwide, commonly perceived as largely recreational – but…


  • many corporations invest in commercially produced SNSs or produce in-house solutions to meet their needs

  • other companies and educational institutions are blocking their employees/students from accessing the sites

    • U.S. military blocked access to MySpace

    • Canadian government blocked access to Facebook from government departments

    • SNS ban affecting schools and libraries is being legislated in the US congress

    • various private corporations threaten disciplinary action if employees are found using SNSs at work

    • Rhodes…What and why?

Sns stats
SNS Stats

Why is this important?

Targeted advertising
Targeted advertising ...

  • How does it work?

Targeted advertising1
Targeted advertising ...

  • Advertisers will pay 10-20 times more for the advert.

  • What is facebook’s model?

    • How important is your profile?

  • What is Google’s model?

    • Do you have a Google profile?

    • Is Google an SNS?

    • Why is it relevant here?

  • If you had limited money to spend on marketing your pharmaceutical product or your car brand, which would you go for?

Some specific applications
Some specific applications

  • Top 5 by user numbers:

    • Facebook ( 400 000 000)

    • Qzone (200 000 000,

    • Orkut (180 000 000 -

    • Habbo (162 000 000, -

    • MySpace (130 000 000, - )

Some specific applications1
Some specific applications

  • Some others you may have heard of:

    • Flickr

    • LastFM

    • LiveJournal

    • deviantART

    • LinkedIn

    • Tumblr, Imeem (video sharing, bought out my MySpace), Twitter [no detail on any of these in the slides to come]


  • mostly in western countries

  • MySpace offers share capabilities with features that include:

    • Talking online with friends

    • Matchmaking, either for friends with other friends or an opportunity for singles to meet other singles.

    • Keeping in touch with families

    • Businesses or co-workers interested in networking

    • Studying with study partners

    • Looking for long lost friends. (MySpace - About Us, 2006).


  • users – teenagers and young adults who share a passion for music and media artists -> no kids, no mortgages, generally significant disposable income

  • advertising from the music industry and others keen to exploit the young people demographic resulting in large profits to the MySpace company

  • Top social site from June 2006 to April 2008, when competitor Facebook overtook it.

  • But! MySpace currently in financial trouble – laid off 30% of workforce in June 2009.



  • Popular mostly in China – the mysterious dark reaches of the non-english-speaking web…

  • permits users to:

    • write blogs,

    • keep diaries,

    • send photos,

    • listen to music.

  • Most Qzone services are not free-> need to buy the (virtual) "Canary Diamond" to access every service without paying extra.

  • mobile version available at extra cost



  • owned by Google (what else is owned by Google? The new MS? Issues of monopoly)

  • launched worldwide, flopped in English speaking countries – was hard to interact with other users, other than by writing testimonials or joining groups (issues with groups…)

  • took off enormously in Brazil


  • - “Habbo hotel”

  • began in 2000 and has expanded to include 32 online communities (or "hotels").

  • sort of a mixture of Second Life and Facebook –

  • users, groups, etc – the usual, but users have avatars

  • move around a virtual world

  • worldwide- country-specific sites (typically not on for SA)

  • virtual property, real value (like Second Life), thus virtual yet also real crime



  • two main stated goals:

    • to help people make their content available to the people who matter to them, and

    • to enable new ways of organizing photos and video

  • Flickr asks photo submitters to organize images using tags (a form of metadata) -> enable searchers to find images related to particular topics, such as place names or subject matter (implements tag clouds providing access to images tagged with the most popular keywords).

  • Freemiumbusiness model - look it up!

On a tangent compfight
On a tangent – compfight!

  • *The* Flickr search-engine



  • - Internet “radio”

  • current website was developed from two separate sources: Audioscrobbler and (merged in 2005)

  • founded in the United Kingdom in 2002, claims > 40 000 000

  • install software, then a music recommender system called "Audioscrobbler” builds a a profile of your musical taste by recording details of the songs you play on your pc

  • Date is "scrobbled” (collected/transferred) to’s database either via the music player itself (Spotify, Amarok) or via a plugin installed into the user's music player. The profile data is then displayed on the user's profile page.

  • numerous social networking features, can make recommendations

  • can create custom radio stations and playlists from any of the audio tracks in's music library , and are able to listen to some individual tracks on demand, or download tracks if the rights holder has previously authorised it.



  • combines blogging and SNS features by design, thus privacy features uncharacteristic of blogging sites

  • highly customisable levels of access, a model being copied by Facebook and various other SNSs – who sees what and when

  • communities - users can create and join

  • threaded commenting, comment/post tracking, freezing, etc makes LJ comms much more usable than Facebookcomms

  • some comms large and influential enough to impact web politics - strikethrough 2007, Haiti (ONTD – ONTD also mentioned in Oprah’s O magazine, Playboy magazine, and Life & Style magazine, and has +- a million members)


  • SNS for artists, writers, poets, film-makers, and creators in general

  • 11 000 000 members

  • high quantity of fan content

  • Has led to member summits and in 2009 a world tour exhibition show-casing works


  • Demographic difference once again - different focus:


  • Facebook was launched as "thefacebook" in September 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Yadav 2006).

  • Not the first application of its type – followed sites like Friendster and Tribe

  • Facebook limited its membership creating a certain elitism (requirement that members be affiliated with a recognized English-speaking university –needed a uni e-mail address).

  • has expanded across demographic boundaries

  • Wikipedia claims it has 600 000 000 active users (interestingly 100 000 000 up from when this course was given last year!)

    Places to go: Facebook - by Stephen Downes


  • Facebook basic features include:

    • Wall – a space where messages can be posted on each other’s profile page.

    • Pokes – Virtual Pokes can be given to other users.

    • Status – Information can be given to friends on the current actions or whereabouts of the user

    • News Feed/Mini feed – where Facebook can announce changes to its site like upcoming events, profile changes and birthdays related to friends

    • Photos– users can load photos for their friends to see.


  • An application program interface (API) is a set of specifications defining how input to and interaction with a piece of software should be addressed, how authentication is managed, and how data should be structured.

  • In May 2007, Facebook opened its platform, providing an API to allow external applications to upload content.

  • members are now able to select from dozens of applications to input and display novel types of content

  • apps further expand and solidify multilateral demographic – e.g. parents/grandparents & Farmville