Social Networking

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An Essay Social Networking –a Paradox- Success or Failure

Introduction ---Teenagers will freely give up personal information to join social networks on the Internet. Afterwards, they are surprised when their parents read their journals. Communities are outraged by the personal information posted by young people online and colleges keep track of student activities on and off campus. The posting of personal information by teens and students has consequences. I will discuss the uproar over privacy issues in social networks by describing a privacy paradox.

Social networking is successful because of its Viral Nature-They key to social networks quickly moving up in size is their viral nature. Because people who get on those need to expand their network, they invite their friends. And those friends, in turn, invite their friends. The viral nature of a new social network is an important part to making it succeed.Some networks have taken the model one step further by being "by invitation only". Initially, this represents a certain level of exclusivity, with people then trying to get in. This exclusivity breaks down, though, if the social networks do not have a mechanism to slow down or limit the number of new invitations going out. All it takes to tear down that sense of exclusivity is for one person to start inviting hordes of people. Online Identity-Not everyone has a personal website. It may come as a shock to most of my readers but, for some people, social networks personal pages are the only place where people maintain an identity. Some, like MySpace, have capitalized on that effect by providing tools that allow to enhance those profiles in ways that make them indistinct from personal sites, beyond the fact that the URL is on the service instead of being a personal one.Enhanced Knowledge-When used properly, social networks can be a great way to enhance knowledge. Tapping into one's social network can allow for people to fill an information gap if members of their extended social network have deep subject matter expertise in a certain area. At the current time, few social networking sites have used that capability but, I believe this is one of the most useful aspects of social networking sites.

Basic human need to share-The proliferation of blogs has shown that people love to share their opinion. The proliferation of the open source movement shows that some people love to share their expertise. I think there is a deeply rooted need among human beings to share, whether it is information or opinions. Social networks appeal to the altruistic side of people by allowing them to share their connection and introduce friends to other friends. Basic human need to connect-Most of all, though, human beings are social creatures. As such, the root of all success from social networking sites is based on a need to connect and expand connections. For most of history, connections were largely limited by geographical or economic considerations. Social networks allow people to expand their connections around interests. This first appeared with the rise of Usenet and bulletin boards, where members formed communities around specific interests and has now expanded into the social networking realm, where people can find out more about people who are most like them.

Failure of social networking because of Privacy concerns -The first reason I would highlight, and part of the reason why social networks have not really gained much traction outside of a self-selected group of people is the amount of privacy concerns that exist within certain age groups. Younger people are generally more immune to those but older people tend to worry about what the social networks in question do with their data and are worried that they will either be data mined or that they will suffer from identity theft. This anxiety has largely been driven by media emphasis on how your data on the Internet is unsafe and how there are "nefarious characters" running around...
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