It used to be that friends catch up over the telephone or when they are able to meet up for coffee or dinner. Years ago, meeting new friends were done through common friends. With the advent of the Internet, the creation of Facebook, Friendster and other social networking sites (SNS) have made it easier to be up-to-date on friends’ lives and get acquainted with new people…
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In 1997, SixDegrees.com was launched and became the first known SNS where one can create profiles, list friends, communicate with school friends and surf the Friends list and the network for others all on one website. (Boyd and Ellison) After SixDegrees, many more similar SNS filled the web. One of the popular ones, Friendster, also provided the same activities as SixDegrees although it was designed to be more of a dating site on the premise that friends-of-friends would be better dating partners than strangers. (Boyd and Ellison) At present, one of the most popular SNS is Mark Zuckerberg’s creation, Facebook. Filled with updates on the lives of friends of friends of friends, apps, games, messaging capability, photo and video storage and many more, Facebook has become part of a person’s daily or weekly routine. Another famous site is Youtube. The website allows an individual to upload personal videos, view others’ videos, subscribe to others’ Youtube profiles, post and read comments and send each other messages. The fame of SNSs can be attributed to 10 reasons, namely, the ability to: stay connected with friends; communicate; be up-to-date on news quickly; achieve a more personal connection; make friends with common interests and “likes”; network; express creatively; be exposed globally and create a positive impact on the world. (Henry) “Online SNSs support both the maintenance of existing social ties and the formation of new connections.” (Ellison, Steinfield and Lampe) As it is innate in man to continually create relationship with other people and keep said relationships, the ability to sustain these associations virtually has been a very big convenience. With SNSs, it has been easier to be in contact with relatives and friends who live abroad and to find long-lost relatives. (Fetalvero) Online SNSs has replaced the two to three-week waiting time for postal mail and the overly expensive long distance calls. Because updates on SNSs appear seconds after being posted by the user, the experience is similar to being within reach of each other. The space allotted for advertisements on these sites has also aided proprietors in increasing their market reach. It has also been suggested that online social networking sites could assist with “productivity, innovation and democratic working” in companies. (Holden) Indeed, the arrival of these social network sites has brought many benefits, both personal and commercial to the individual. Several examples of these are the new artists of today who were discovered on Youtube like Charice Pempengco, Marie Digby and Justin Beiber. Thanks to the extent of exposure they were able to get from being on the Internet via Youtube they already had a large following before show business found them. The SNSs have also been a source of humanitarian activities. Individuals needing support – from blood or monetary donations to searching for missing people – post these messages on their profiles, banking on the people on their network and the people on their friends’ networks. These sites also serve as an avenue for professionals and non-professionals to transmit, discuss, analyze and debate a good number of news. (Wisner and Gaillard) In spite of all the good SNSs can bring, there can also be a downside to posting one’s personal information and correspondence on a public
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