Today and all around the world, Social Network Sites (SNS’s) have become one of the main topics of discussion in various scenarios. They keep marketers awake, mothers concern, teenagers distracted, scholars interested and authorities aware.
How people spend their time online has changed greatly since 1997 where the first recognizable social network was introduced (SixDegrees.com). At present, users can choose from a wide rage of SNS’s and decide who they are and how they what to present themselves. You can choose to be exclusive (ASmallWorld), professional (LinkedIn), a dog lover (Dogster), a traveler (Couchsurfing), an artist (Flickr), a “friend” (Facebook), a photographer (Instagram) or even an activist (Twitter).
For each person SNS’s serve a different purpose. Marketers are seeking ways of approaching their audience and making a connection. Mothers use it to cease their concern and reassure that their children aren’t giving out to much information. Teenagers find themselves spending more time online than in the real world. Scholars focus their research on network structures, online/offline connection, privacy issues and friendship performance. And authorities use them for criminal investigations, clues and data.
SNS’s are for everyone. It does not matter what nationality you are from, what your cultural background is, your age, your interests or what your purpose is. Technology allows you to be online, connected to the world 24/7. A world that changes constantly and that can consist of your friends, sources of information, groups of people with common interests, complete strangers or the person you are having tea with in that precise moment at your favorite coffeehouse.
According to the article Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship written by Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison SNS’s are defined as web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile, articulate a list of users whom they share a connection and view and transverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.
Social Network Sites started appearing around the world in the late 90’s and from that moment on we have seen both successful and unsuccessful attempts of sites as they are constantly evolving. With each passing day SNS’s are overcoming their technical obstacles, gaining a wider understanding of their users and rapidly growing and offering a variety of possibilities for us to interact with the world.
“You are what you share” said Charles Leadbeater and to what point do we find that true?
What most experts conclude and agree on is that SNS’s “mirror, support and alter known everyday practices, especially with respect to how people present (and hide) aspects of themselves and connect with others”. (Boyde and Ellisson)