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An Introduction to Social Networking

Rod Munday | Friday May 01, 2009

Categories: Other Topics, Social Networking


The UK media regulator Ofcom recently called Britain a nation of social networkers, noting that Bebo, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube are all in the top ten internet sites in terms of the amount of time people spend there (Ofcom 2007). One in four UK citizens log onto a social network site at least 23 times each month, making the UK the most enthusiastic online social networking nation in Europe and second only to Canada in the world (Smithers 2008).

For an emerging generation, a social network is not just a place to catch up with friends and family, it’s a place where [people are] living out their lives online; a place where content and culture come together as a means of self expression. (Bebo 2009)

Social networking appears to have exploded into public consciousness in a very short space of time (Comer 2009, 551). The first social networking sites appeared around the turn of the century, but in the last four years there have been signs that they may be starting to substitute the usage of broadcast media (Ofcom 2007, 27). Their rapid rise in popularity is indicated by statistics; in February 2005 just 8% of adult internet users had used a social network site, by August 2006 it was 16%, and now it stands at 35% (Lenhart 2009, 3).

The growth of social networking (Lenhart 2009, 4)

The volume of material being uploaded to social network sites is substantial, 3,744,000 new photos are uploaded to Flickr and 65,000 new video clips are uploaded to YouTube every day. The YouTube figure represents twenty-two and a half days of digital content for every physical day that passes (ibid., 40).

Social networking has promoted a shift in media production and consumption from and old model characterised by one media producer broadcasting to many consumers to one characterized by a user-generated content model where consumers are also producers (Lister, Dovey, Giddings, Grant, & Kelley 2009, 204).

The growth in the popularity of...

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