Social Media and Networking

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Find below an essay I whipped up this morning in class on social media and networking, their implications, advantages, limitations, and effects on society. I'd appreciate any feedback and correction of factual errors. It was a lot of fun to write :) A social network is a structure of individuals and organizations that models their relations to one another. They are not unique to the Web, but their manifestation as data has lent itself to be analyzed. Special attention can be paid to the mathematical properties of the network.

MySpace is considered by many to be the inaugural social networking site on the web, though it proceeded Blogspot by four years. Launched in 2003, it allows carte blanche for user pages, allowing users to modify the underling HTML of their profiles. It can be used for personal use or for business use and is open to anyone; it is not required to join in order to participate.

There are serious concerns with MySpace. As a subsidy of Newscorp, owned by Rupert Murdoch, there are concerns with how the information on MySpace will be used.

Additionally, MySpace saw the rise of ``cyber bullying.'' 2008 was witness to a landmark trial of Missouri woman who posed on MySpace as a friend of a neighbourhood teenage girl. After gaining the individuals trust online, she badgered the girl until she committed suicide. The eventual conviction hinged on the fact that the woman violated the Terms of Service by using fraudulent information when she registered.

Blogging has become wildly popular in recent years and has seen marked increate given the mobility of computers and devices that allow users to stay connected anywhere. Blogging takes text form, video form, and audio form (as podcasts). It has many providers offering comparable services, though some have limitations. Blogger and Wordpress are the two foremost text-based blogging service, with Youtube being the foremost video blogging service.

These blogs often offer complete anonymity; Wordpress is open source software that can be installed on any web host and used to promote users ideas. This anonymity has often been challenged by the courts. Someone who writes a blog in known as a blogger.

Online users are often requested by parties who feel that they have been defamed online by anonymous posters. They are often successful, though there has been backlash against this with opponents arguing that they have a right to free speech and anonymity.

Bloggers often publish copyrighted material with permission of their owners, and have been the subject of harsh court rulings. Conversely, bloggers have unfairly been the target of take-down notices issued under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These notices are often issued when copyrighted material is used under fair use or to silence bloggers who blog unfavourably about the copyright holders.

In late 2008, a BC court ruled that linking to content was not the same as republishing content, and therefore linking bloggers are not liable for the content they link to. Michael Geist is a professor of Law at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law. He has followed closely the development of precedent in these cases. He uses his blog and twitter feed to keep Canadian bloggers up to date on developments in these laws.

Blogs, and by extension online social networking in general, have been responsible for a fundamental shift in the way people consume media. It has shifted people from consumers in front of a radio of television news programme to people who report on and offer commentary on current events.

Facebook is a term that is often synonymous with modern social networking. It was launched in 2004 and was initially for use on Icy League campuses. There is, like with MySpace, a complete lack of anonymity; users are required by the ToS to provide their real identity. Unlike MySapce, Facebook requires users to join before viewing content. Facebook...
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