This week’s reading by boyd and Ellison (2008) focuses on the definition and history of Social Network Sites (SNSs) and their progression as the Web has advanced. I agree with the distinction made between the terms social network site and social networking site; although these terms are often used interchangeably, boyd and Ellison (2008) decided to use the term network rather than networking. Networking ‘emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers’ (boyd & Ellison 2008, pg 211) but this is not the primary function of many SNSs. Most users of SNSs are not ‘networking’ as in attempting to meet new people, but are connecting with people already in their social network (boyd & Ellison 2008).
A history of SNSs is explored in the article (2008), demonstrating their transformation as the popularity of such sites has increased and the capabilities of the Web expanded. Early SNSs such as SixDegrees.com, Friendster and Ryze were eventually replaced with sites such as MySpace and Facebook that are highly user-responsive and able to be easily manipulated by users to suit their own personal tastes and preferences.
I believe that SNSs are popular because they provide a simple way for people to remain in contact regardless of their geographic location. However, there is also an element of self-presentation; friendship links ‘serve as identity markers for the profile owner’ (boyd & Ellison 2008, pg 220) and affect how we are seen by others. SNSs raise many privacy issues as they are ‘challenging legal conceptions of privacy’ (boyd & Ellison 2008, pg 222) and have been the source of moral panic in the past. Most SNSs have responded to these concerns through amendments to privacy policies and by raising awareness of these matters.
– Katie Challita 3663620
boyd, dana & Ellison, Nicole (2008), ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship,’, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, vol.13, pp.210-230