BACKGROUND TO STUDY
The rise of new media has increased communication between people all over the world via the new communication technologies. These new communication technologies according to Popoola (2003:44) include but not limited to computer (technology), broadcast technology, cable television, internet, telecommunication, teletex, videotext and teleconferencing technologies.
The internet in particular has helped in turning the world into a global village as predicted by Marshall McLuhan. It has improved communication process which according to Ogwezzy (2008:18), is a process by which a sender passes information to the decoder or receiver. It has also allowed people to express themselves through blogs, websites, pictures, social networking sites and other user-generated media.
Flew (2002:13) stated that as a result of the evolution of new media technologies, globalization occurs. Globalization is generally stated as "more than expansion of activities beyond the boundaries of particular nation states". Globalization shortens the distance between people all over the world by the electronic communication. Carely 1992 in Flew (2002:13) and Cairncross (1998) express this great development as the "death of distance". New media "radically break the connection between physical place and social place, making physical location much less significant for our social relationships" (Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 311). Through these globalised communities, "Virtual communities" are being established online and it transcends geographical boundaries, eliminating social restrictions. Rheingold cited in Slevin (2000:91) describes these globalised societies as “self-defined networks, which resemble what we do in real life”. According to him "People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk" (Rheingold cited in Slevin 2000: 91). For Sherry Turkle "making the computer into a second self, finding a soul in the machine, can substitute for human relationships" (Holmes 2005: 184). New media has the ability to connect like-minded others worldwide. One of the major tools of achieving this globalization is the use of social networking sites (SNS). The SNS is “an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users” (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2007:1). Users can connect to friends and colleagues through sending emails and instant messages, posting information in the form of photos, video/audio files, images, and texts, and sharing personal profiles with other members.
Social Networking Sites (SNS) are one of the most popular topics being talked about by the Nigerian students. A social network service focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., people who share interests and/or activities.
A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Examples of social networking sites are Friendster, Facebook, Twitter, Plurk and even Lagbook (for University of Lagos students).
The main types of social networking services are those which contain category places (such as former school-year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages) and a recommendation system linked to trust. Popular methods now combine many of these. Facebook, Bebo and Twitter are widely used worldwide; MySpace and LinkedIn being the most widely used in North America; Nexopia (mostly in Canada); Bebo Hi5, Hyves (mostly...