This research paper is intended to understand the effects that Facebook, the social networking site has upon us, whether it influences our lives in a good or in a bad way. In order to understand the Facebook Effect we are trying to see how it impacts our lives at economic level,social level, political level, terminology level , psychological level and cultural level . Starting from the question : “What does Facebook want?” we found several answers consisting in pros and cons of this phenomenon , which should help us decide our position regarding Facebook importance in our lives and finally to decide whether or not we want/ need it.
Keywords: Facebook, social network, effect
JEL classification: L82, L86
I. What is Facebook ?
In an era in which the technology took control of every single pieces of our universe, an era in which we use computers for everything, an era in which leisure time means spending time in front of your computer and playing games or developing your social life on a certain network, the only solution left to those skeptical regarding technology is to try to adapt to all these changes and to try to include them in our lives because there is no other away around.
It is quite difficult if not impossible to try to stay away from all what technology means, try not to be affected by all these rapid-changing trends and to take the necessary time to decide which is helpful for you or by contrary which is harmful.
In this category of technology-related items we can include the new revolution of the Internet: Facebook .
Facebook is a social network service or “social utility” (as Mark Zuckerberg ,the founder, likes to call it) launched in February 2004, where users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile, they may join common interest user groups, organized by workplace, school, or college, or other characteristics. (Zuckerberg, 2007)
Even from its first day of entering the market it was a huge success and all its evolution led to numbers hardly to imagine that beat his older competitors’ results . ‘How did he do that?’, ‘What does it have so special?’ and ‘What does Facebook want?’ ‘Do we need it? ’ , those are the questions that arise in my mind when I think about the usefulness and the purpose of it .
“What does Facebook Want ?”and by this I’m not referring wheather it wants vanilla or chocolate ,by this I’m referring to the impact that Facebook has upon us, how Facebook succeeded to change in a certain measure our lives and the measure in which it still continues to influence our habits and ways of interacting with others.
II. What does Facebook Want?
1.To attract more users and revenues (economic impact)
“The Facebook” ,how it was initially called , has been a great success since its first 24 hours of existence ,when over 1200 Harvard students had signed up , and after one month, over half of the undergraduate population had a profile. This was only the beginning of the Facebook phenomena. Since then Facebook wrote pages of history: in January 2009 Facebook became the most visited social networking site with 1,191,373,339 monthly visits (according to compete.com), on March 13, 2010 more people visited Facebook then Google, since July 2010 and the most important issue is that Facebook has more than 500 million active users (Zuckerberg,2010).
Thanks to its dedicated “fans”, Facebook increased its revenues from $52 million in 2006 to $1,100 milion in 2010 in a period in which most companies encountered big difficulties due to the financial crises. (Rosseti, F. , 2010 )We shouldn’t forget neither the founder of the Facebook : Mark Elliot Zuckerberg which is tied in 35th place on the list of 400 richest people in the United States of America after seeing his wealth grow 245 percent to $6.9 billion.(Unchime, 2010)
2. To enter in our lives (social impact)
Facebook team defined their mission as : “Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”, meaning that using this social utility people can be closer to their friends by sharing photos, impressions ,messages. In a certain measure they succeeded this and as a proof we have all the stories told on Facebook Stories which are sent by people that their lives have been influenced by the use of Facebook.
One of the greatest story is that of a woman who had her Facebook photo stolen and used as advertising in the Czech Republic. (Murano, 2009). The woman posted on her Facebook account a picture with her family (husband , her daughter and her son) , but when she did that she had never imagined that one of her friends would use the image without any authorization to advertise a food store in Prague, the Czech Republic. Mario Bertuccio , the owner of the company, declared that he took the picture from a site and that he never thought that the picture belonged to a real family.
Another interesting story that can be found on Facebook Stories is that of a groom who updated his Facebook status at the altar during his wedding . Before kissing the bride, Dana Hanna, a Software Developer took his cellphone and updated his relationship status on Facebook and Twitter. He also handed one over to his new wife to do the same. (Murano,2009).
3.To debate upon politics (political impact)
The fact that there is no boundary that Facebook cannot cross is sustained by the way in which this social networking site succeeds to appear everywhere, even on the political stage of America, as a way of attracting people debating on several issues related to politics. Before 2008 , the presidential election, ABC News and Facebook launched an online political initiative that combines the latest news form the campaign trail with a variety of discussion and interactive forums. "The goal is to extend the debate from being a one-hour session that happens on television to a dialogue that can take place before, after and now during the debate between voters," sustains Dan Rose, Facebook's vice president of business development. The partnership between these two : ABC News and Facebook is intended to attract users that would like to debate upon campaign issues , upon opinions of fellow users on key topics, upon different promises that candidates are doing during their campaigns , etc and in this way to facilitate and make it easier to understand what happens on the political stage. ABC News comes with the editorial content and Facebook with the appropriate technology and these 2 elements should make the perfect “furniture” for a place where people can find “a very special and different environment for political discourse and debate among people who know each other and follow one another”. (Ofiicial website of ABCnews ,2007)
Another area where Facebook lets felt his presence is the terminology area.
By 2005 , people using Facebook were already familiar with the meaning of the verb ‘facebooking’ that intended to describe the process of browsing others’ profiles or updating one’s own. The word “Facebook” has been added to the 2008 edition of the Collins English Dictionary as both a noun and a verb and in this way Facebook became the new Word of the Year .(DeLeo, 2007)So from now on we can for example say : ‘I can Facebook you now’ and it would be correct from grammatical point of view.
But the Facebook impact doesn’t stop here and in December 2009 , New Oxford American Dictionary declared ‘unfriend ’ the Word of the Year and was defined as the action to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook as in: ‘I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.’ Christine Lindberg , Senior Lexicographer for Oxford U.S dictionary states that : “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood , so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year ”. Also at the decision of making ‘unfriend’ the Word of the Year contributed the fact that the word “has real lex-appeal”.
5.To read and watch the Facebook effect (cultural impact)
Facebook ’s success and the story behind it drew the attention of Ben Mezrich(an American New York Times Best Selling author from Princeton) who decided to write a book called ‘The Accidental Billionaires The Founding of Facebook : A Tale of Sex , Money, Genius and Betrayal’. Even though the book pretends to be a “nonfictionish” one , we cannot be 100% sure about this aspect, and our uncertainties will be sustained by the whole wild guessing process used by the author in order to understand how things happened. In order to gather realistic information concerning the process of creation of Facebook, behind his individual research , Mezrich asked information from Eduardo Saverin (cofounder of Facebook ) who is the main character of the book .
First was Facebook , second was the book intended to present the invention of Facebook and the next step is easily to be predicted: a movie. A movie called “ The Social Network “, directed by David Fincher based on writings of Ben Mezrich (author of the book ) and Aaron Sorkin,( author of the screenplay) (Official Site of Internet Movie Database, 2010). To this we add a distribution comprising : Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake and a story about the site that keeps us hostile in front of our computers. All these are the ingredients the movie that won this year 4 Golden Globes out of 6 nominations and as far as the Oscar Awards are concerned we know that “The Social Network” is nominated at 8 categories.
The Facebook phenomenon gained us first through the social networking site, second through the book and third through the movie , and I don’t say last because I don’t even know where else we will find Facebook in the future .
6. To make us Facebook dependent (psychological impact)
For an increasing number of people , the social networking site ,Facebook, became a real problem in the moment when they “moved” their entire life in virtual environment.
Psychotherapists sustain that Facebook can create a dependence that can destroy the real life of the individual. Hilary Betts, a therapist from Great Britain defines the Facebook dependence as a “a form of media dependence and a form of compulsive online behavior ”.
At the beginning of 2010 , American Psychiatry Association (A.P.A) announced 3 new forms of dependence which are to be introduced in the 5th edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, through which we find also the Internet dependence , especially for Facebook , which has now more than 500 million members in the world. This type of social networking site allows a continuous form of communication , while the e-mail , for example is limited. The nature of the Facebook gives the user the impression that if he doesn’t access his Facebook account , he will loose important things and this gives him a sensation of frustration.
III.Do we need/want Facebook?
We have been branded ‘Facebook generation’ and I think this says a lot about us, about the way we choose to express ourselves , to interact with others and to live our lives. Facebook, same as technology, entered in every single piece of our universe and now it does whatever he want until another fancier trend will appear and we will become addicted to it.
They wanted to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected and they succeed to make us become dependent on this connection, dependent on knowing all the time what others are doing and dependent on posting the intimate details of our lives on full view to a global audience of tens of millions of people.
We saw how Facebook makes us change our life style, how important can become for some of us, how much damage can bring to others and how can create dependency. We have to take into account all this minuses and pluses and after that we should decide whether or not we want Facebook in our life. We know that they want us ,but “Do we want them?”
“What does Facebook want? ” is strictly connected with “Do we want Facebook?” because Facebook exists only because we make it possible.
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