Theories About Social Networking Sites

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Peluchette and Karl’s (2008) study of 433 undergraduate students at a Midwestern university in the United States’ use of and attitudes towards SNS reports their tendency to be naïve about the potentially negative consequences of access and use of their information by other people. Their findings are insightful for University career and job placement centres that need to advise students on the possible consequences of their website postings during freshman orientations through student codes of conduct and information technology policies. While the study invokes privacy and self-image implications of postings, it does little to illuminate understanding of the impact of these sites on lecturer-student relations in learning context. Hewitt and Forte (2006) researched the Facebook interactions of two large classes (comprising 176 students) in a middle-sized public research university to unpack how their online contact influences their perceptions of faculty staff. Mixed results were reported, with two thirds of the students affirming their Facebook interactions with faculty staff as presenting alternate communication channels and affording their acquaintance with professors. To the contrary, a third of the students felt that faculty staff had no justification for being on Facebook, and others cited privacy considerations and identity management as key concerns in student-faculty relations. Although their study cast light on the challenges of maintaining hierarchical relations in Facebook, it was not foregrounded in the exercise of social power in developing world contexts. More importantly, Facebook use was a student self-initiative rather than a faculty requirement, as was the case in this current study.

Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe’s (2007) study examined the relationship between university students’ use of Facebook and the formation of social capital and found a strong correlation between these variables. They argued that the strong linkage...
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