Web 2.0 Social Networking Sites

Web 2.0 Social Networking Sites

D. Sandy Staples (Queens University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-272-5.ch005
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SNS is offered, as is a short history of these sites. The existing research is reviewed and organized to summarize what we know about SNS usage (from the perspectives of student use, general population use and organizational use), and what people know about the antecedents and outcomes of SNS use. The chapter concludes with discussion of new developments, challenges and opportunities. There are many opportunities for future research and organizational applications of SNS as SNS adoption grows at incredible rates.
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What Is A Social Networking Site (Sns)?

In this section, we first define SNS and then describe typical characteristics. The history of SNS is briefly discussed. Two of the current leading SNS are profiled in this history: MySpace and Facebook.

Social Networking Sites Defined

Boyd & Ellison (2007) appropriately defined SNS as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.” (p. 211). They prefer the word network over networking in SNS, although they acknowledge the terms are used interchangeably in the literature, because they argue that networking emphasizes the initiation of relationship, often between strangers and that not all users are doing this. Many users use SNS’s to communicate with people that they already know (i.e., the people are already part of their offline social network).

Others argue that “networking” is more appropriate since the term social “network” site would be too broad a term, approaching the same meaning as Web 2.0 (Beer, 2008). Supporting this view, networking is defined by Dictionary.com and MS Word’s reference function, respectively, as:

a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.1

the process or practice of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities.

Neither of these definitions suggest that networking would have to include creating new relationships (in addition to maintaining existing relationships). Therefore, while we adopt boyd and Ellison’s three key characteristics of SNS, we suggest that Social Networking Sites is a more appropriate term for SNS and this terminology will be adopted for this paper. We next expand on SNS characteristics and typical functions provided to the user.

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