Social Media and Networking

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 owns all information entered onto its site by users in perpetuity, even if users delete the information, r even their accounts. This of course violates the basic tenants of Canadian privacy law. Namely, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act restricts businesses operating in Canada to store only information that need to to conduct their businesses and only for the amount of time they need to.
Facebook has been under investigation by the Canada’s Privacy Commissioner for violation of these laws. PIPEDA represents one extreme, while Facebook’s ToS represents another.It has raised fundamental questions of privacy and a citizen’s right to privacy in an age when laws can’t keep pace with the rapid growth and development of the Internet. Twitter is a “microblogging” service first launched in 2006. Originally intended for use over SMS text messaging, it limits users to 140 character “tweets. ” It is completely open and anonymous service that offers one-sided friendships; that is, I can follow your tweets without your permission and without you following me back. People who tweet, or “tweeters”, own the content of their tweets.
This has raised questions as to how Twitter survives as a business since they do not use advertisements. A public API has lead to a plethora of mobile applications that give users an ability to tweet from anywhere. However, the mobility of Twitter applications has raised questions about how much information users should be putting online. If I tweet from a Blackberry, it can upload my GPS location, letting the world know exactly where I am. Consider the 2009 Iranian election, where the government attempted to block twitter; tweeting your location allowed for fellow dissenters to come to your aide.Without a doubt, Twitter had a significant role to play in the West’s knowledge of the Iranian election. This continued to shift of individuals from media consumers to media producers.
This phenomenon has been coined “little brother”, to complete converse of the traditional “Big Brother” government. Social networking is not new social behaviour. The advent of the Internet and mathematical graph theory has led to the use and study of social networking online. It has been responsible for irrevocably changing our society and our history, for better or worse.

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