Formal Report�Rough Draft by mkVhHYy

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									                                                                                Kyle Rubis
                                                                            Kenny Conleay
                                                                               Arley Eison
                                                                            Amanda Curtis
                                                                           David Mikhailov
Formal Report—Rough Draft



       Many say that today is the age of cyberspace. The internet has changed the way

our society as a whole functions. We look back on just over a decade ago when the

internet was not such a common gathering ground and question how we managed without

it. Why is the internet so important to us? It brings the world together, literally

connecting every human being that has access. Many websites are exploiting this very

concept. Using the internet as a means of transportation taking users to their meeting

place for people to mingle, exchange ideas and information, and make all sorts of

connections. These websites are labeled as social networking websites. Social

networking websites are based on the same principles that physical social networks that

have existed since mankind’s beginning are based on.

       A social network is a social structure, which connects individuals or organizations

with other individuals or organizations by means of relationships or ties (Wikipedia,

Social network. 2007). Social networks can be found just about anywhere where there is

human interaction. Social networks can be observed as family members functioning in a

household, students interacting in a school, co-workers working in an organization, to

governments communicating in a society. A tightly working social network can allow for

members in the network to more easily and more efficiently share information, and

communicate ideas. If social networks are about information exchange and the fastest
means of exchanging information is at our fingertips, then why not take the concept of

social networks online?

       Social networks have been taken to a new level now that there are hundreds of

websites connecting millions of people in different ways (Wikipedia, List of social

networking websites, 2007). On most social networking websites, users create profiles

and use them in an assortment of different ways to connect with other users. They can

send messages to friends, post blogs, bulletins, contact information, photos, videos, self

interests, resumes, upcoming events, etc. The first social networking website was created

in 1995 to help students and alumni find their old friends and help keep in touch with

current friends (Wikipedia, Social network. 2007). Others expanded on the idea trying to

offer more features to bring in more users. The first social networking websites were

used for people to contact and communicate with friends giving them a sense of having

an online community. MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Yahoo! 360, and Hi5 are a few of

the many sites that allow friends to stay in-touch and connected (Wikipedia, List of social

networking websites, 2007). The idea expanded and websites started to appear with

intent of bringing in users for specific purposes. Flickr was created for photo enthusiasts

to create their own library of photos they could share with others. eHarmony allows

singles to post detailed information of themselves and helps them find matches for dates.

Youtube allows users to post personal videos of just about anything from music lessons,

to self made films, to concert performances. There are medical social networking

websites that can allow healthcare professionals to share crucial medical information with

each other allowing more abundant and accessible knowledge (Wikipedia, Social network

service, 2007). Corporations and businesses are using social networking websites to
connect employees with each other allowing them to better reach coworkers and

employees of related businesses. Other social networks allow people to share music,

personal literature, travel tips, and community events. Hundreds of social networking

websites exist today and more are being created as time goes on to help bring more

people together for many different purposes.

       According to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project,

teens use social networking sites to help them manage their friendships and stay in touch

with friends. The survey found that 91 percent of teens who use social networking do so

to stay in touch with friends whom they see frequently, while 82 percent of teens using

social networking do so to stay in touch with friends whom they rarely see in person

(“Teenage girls most avid users,” 2007).

       Social networking sites do face certain problems and issues with their sites. “The

fertile social networking landscape also presents a fundamental challenge to site

operators: how to attract a critical mass of members and capture the attention of

advertisers,” says Carolyn Y. Johnson. “Each of the new companies is looking for a

sweet spot, emphasizing a slightly different approach: better privacy controls, more

media sharing, or a community of people with similar hobbies or ages” (Johnson, 2007).

       Social networking sites create an opportunity for users to create a profile and

build a personal network for themselves. According to the Pew Internet and American

Life Project, in the past five years these networking sites have transformed from a niche

or hobby activity into a social networking phenomenon. The most likely to use these

websites are older teens, especially girls, because it becomes a place where they can

reinforce friendships. On the other hand, boys take advantage of a social networking site
to flirt with girls and create new friendships. The Pew Internet and American Life Project

survey found that 48 percent of teens visit social networking sites daily or more. Their

findings suggest that 26 percent visit a social networking site once per day and 22 percent

visit a site several times per day (“Teenage girls most avid users,” 2007).

         This social networking phenomenon is not just for teens these days. “The past

year has seen a proliferation of new online hangouts, with Imbee.com courting pre-

MySpace tweens and Eons.com offering baby boomers a place to hand out and set up

obituary alerts,” says Carolyn Y. Johnson. “Even the original teen-centric websites are

getting a little prayer: 41 percent of the people over age 18 who visited MySpace.com

during a recent four-week period were 35 or older, according to Internet tracking firm

Hitwise USA Inc.” Looking back three years ago, 62 percent of Facebook.com users

ranged from the ages of 18 to 24. Today, however, that number is less than half, as older

adults are taking advantage of the social networking phenomenon (Johnson, 2007).

         Other than using social networking sites for keeping contact with friends, it has

been found that social networking sites offer other uses, such as business networking.

Carolyn Y. Johnson says, “One of the most successful spaces so far is LinkedIn.com, a

website scrubbed of MySpace’s glitz, where professionals post bland resume items and

connect with others in the same profession” (Johnson, 2007). In addition to business

networking, people have turned to social networking sites as a tool to simplify multiple

email accounts into one. Jennifer Simpson, an analyst at the Yankee Group, predicts that

social networking websites will be the new way to compile many different email

accounts for many different purposes into one social networking account (Johnson,

2007).
         Social networking websites are intended for people of all ages with any interest.

Whether a teenager is reinforcing friendships, adults are dating online, or a senior citizen

is posting an obituary, social networking sites serve a purpose for anyone. Advertisers

have recognized this form of media and realized that there is a market in social

networking websites. “Advertisers are expected to spend $1.9 billion on social networks

by 2010, up from $280 million in 2006,” reports Catherine Holahan. “The sites that

commend the highest figures per ad impression are typically those that can tell the

advertiser something about their audiences’ likely spending habits” (Holahan, 2007).

Therefore, social networking websites that allow users to interact with those with similar

interests allow the advertisers to target their audience more successfully.

         Social networking websites can be considered a booming industry, given the

number of people who utilize the sites and the pace at which the sites are growing.

“According to VentureOne, a research firm, nearly $500 million in venture-capital money

was pumped into social-media companies in the first nine months of 2006” (Hirschorn,

2007).

         According to Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise, the top

twenty social networking websites make up for 6 percent of all visits that are made to

websites (Johnson, 2007). Of these social networking websites, MySpace has been the

most successful, with 85 percent of teens who have an account reporting that they visit or

update their MySpace account the most often. This number is large compared to the 7

percent who report visiting or updating their Facebook account the most often (“Teenage

girls most avid users,” 2007). The average Facebook usage per month is about an hour,

while MySpace is about twice that (Hirshcorn, 2007).
       MySpace is perhaps the most popular of all social networking web sites. The

owner of MySpace is a company named Intermix Media which was recently bought by

Rupert Murdoch’s New Corp. The CEO of Myspace.com is Chris DeWolfe and the

president is Tom Anderson. The main way that myspace.com creates revenue is through

advertising. Companies pay money to the owner in order to put an ad on the pages of

myspace.com. This is a very good way to get your name out on the web if you are an up

and coming business or even if you are a popular business. Myspace.com has not

allowed advertisements to be the main focus of their website. They really pride

themselves in the way that they do not overload their members with advertising, however

do provide enough to keep their members in the know. It is believed that Myspace.com

made upwards of $200 million dollars in 2006. The main attraction with myspace.com is

how they really allow you to create your own profile for yourself and show yourself in

whatever light you want to be seen in. It really does not limit you to what you can put on

your particular page. You are able to download images, backgrounds, music and more

and add those items to your page. This is a major reason for the unbelievable success of

myspace.com and other social networking websites.

       Another very popular social networking web site is Facebook. The owner of

Facebook is Mark E. Zuckerberg. He was a student at Harvard University while creating

this social networking phenomenon. This social networking website was originally

designed for the college student, but has since been used for high school students, other

groups and even used in the workplace. Facebook has signed an advertising deal with

Microsoft putting Microsoft adCenter links on Facebook website. The dollar figure has

not been made public as of yet. As with most social networking websites, advertising is
the major factor in generating revenue. Facebook is laid out in a more business-like

format than MySpace or Friendster. Students use this to gather information from fellow

classmates as well as to socialize and make new friends. It is also used to set up study

groups for people who need the extra help in different areas of their studies.

       Friendster is another rival social networking website. Although it may not be as

popular as the other two mentioned above, it has been around longer than both of them.

Friendster is privately owned and founded by Jonathan Abrams in 2002. As with the

other two mentioned, advertising is the main factor in generating revenue. Although it

has not continued to take off as much as the other two social networking websites

mentioned above, it has maintained a level of success in order to stay profitable. It is still

able to land large companies to pay to advertise on the pages of friendster.com. The

success of this website will depend on its ability to come up with more ideas to keep up

with myspace.com and thefacebook.com.

       MySpace is not just a social networking website for teenagers and young adults,

but it has become a website that several businesses are using for networking. There are

many different areas of business that have proven to be very successful from using

MySpace for this reason.

       One area of business that uses MySpace for social networking is the music

business. Members of bands send out friend requests to MySpace members they think

would be interested in their music. By doing this bands can become part of their network

and advertise directly to the person they are targeting. Artists can put their songs on their

profile page where MySpace users can listen and even download these songs onto their

own profiles for even more people to hear. Many radio stations, such as 99X will also use
MySpace for social networking. MySpace has proved to be a very successful way for

people affiliated with the music industry to get their name and their music out there for

people to hear. It has helped many artists promote their upcoming concerts and sell more

tickets. Radio stations have also been able to recruit new listeners by designing profiles

and advertising for their station and type of music.

       Another big industry that relies on MySpace for social networking is businesses

that perform services. Salons and tattoo parlors are just two examples of businesses that

have taken advantage of the popular networking site for younger people. By making

profiles for their business they can post pictures of hair styles or tattoo designs that they

have done for advertisement purposes. People that are interested in these businesses can

go to their profiles to leave comments about the business or their pictures. This is a good

way for people in the service industry to get feedback about their work and styles. They

can use the information that they receive through MySpace to better their business and in

the long run make a bigger profit. Hair stylists and tattoo artists can make a large sum of

money within a year but it all depends on how many people they perform services for.

Social networking is very important for people that work in the service industry because

they are paid off of commission. The more networking and advertising they do; the more

money they can make.

       Other areas of business where MySpace can be helpful to the company are

businesses that manufacture and sell products. Car dealerships would be one example of

this type of business. They use MySpace for networking with young adults; because

what young person is not interested in purchasing or at least looking at a new car. They

can use this networking website to directly advertise with its users.
       Another major company within the area of manufacturing and selling that uses

social networking websites, such as MySpace is The Coca Cola Company. Advertising

alone has never been a problem for this company; every where you go you see a coke

machine, or somebody drinking a Coca Cola product. You also see billboards

everywhere, but it’s that extra bit of personal advertising that this company is interested

in. That’s why The Coca Cola Company uses MySpace to connect with its users and get

their opinions about their products. Apparently this strategy has been very useful for

Coca Cola because at the end of the year 2006 the company’s revenue was a little over

$24,088,000,000. Obviously Coca Cola is a very large company and it is no surprise that

their income is that big, but their revenue has increased every year that they have used

MySpace and other websites for networking.

       While online social networking is a great tool, there may also be some

consequences related to such open systems. Places like Myspace.com have a massive

amount of members. Last time I checked it was approaching to 170 million. While there

are some tools in place to filter the content on there, it is impossible to monitor such a

large amount of people.

       At this point the known issues with internet social networking include: Giving

out too much personal information, threat of sexual predators, stealing your information,

computer viruses, malware, spyware and adware, inappropriate material for kids, and

people who pose as someone else. Also, the amount of time spent on these sites detracts

from other things that people can put time in. It may ruin your relationship with your

friends, or you may not get to things that you were planning on, or in case of kids, they

may not spend as much time on their school work as before. While a lot of this can be
controlled, in the case of younger teens and kids, parents need to be aware of these issues

and know how to control them. Some sources argue that the fear of such sites has been

taken out of proportion and they are not as dangerous as they may seem.

       According to an article on emergencemarketing.com there has been a study done

by Professor Dr. Larry Rosen of California University Psychology which backs up why

these fears are overblown. They took 1500 teens that are members of Myspace.com and

250 parents. Of those kids only seven percent have experienced anything related to

sexual intent, and almost all of them have basically ignored those people, and blocked

them out. While most of the parents from this group believed that sexual predators online

were a big problem.

       There are a lot of places that parents can go and find out more information about

how to control their kids. There are some web sites such as WiredSafety.org which are

dedicated to help and inform teens and their parents on how to be safe on theses sites.

There is a PDF file that anyone can download written up by Parry Aftab on this same site

which has information and tips on social networking sites for kids and parents. Also at

http://www.nisd.net/webwarning/sites.htm they have articles on social networking sites.

       Aside from protecting kids, anyone should always know that giving out too much

personal information is a risk. This information can be collected and used to steal your

identity, as well as use it as a data source for solicitors who can send you spam already

tailored to your interests. For some this information can be like a gold mine. Also

remember that nothing is free, a lot of things advertised in the banners of social

networking sites have a catch of some kind. You may end up downloading a “free”

Myspace cursor or something to that extent and it can silently install some malicious
software on your computer. A lot of people have no idea because it will never show up

in any programs list, except it will run in the background and either spy on and collect

your information or solicit advertisements on your computer. Some software can also use

your email and you email list to spread unwanted junk mail to others. Always have some

kind of Antivirus on your computer. The basic and the most effective advice is that,

know what you are doing before you get into it. Research it and learn it. A lot of it is

common sense.

Conclusion
                                     REFERENCES


Hirschorn, Michael. (2007). The Web 2.0 Bubble. Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 299, Issue 3,
       p134-138, 4p.


Holahan, Catherine. (2007). Social Networking Goes Niche. Business Weekly Online,
       p14-14, 1p.


Johnson, Catherine Y. (2007). Space for everyone: Social networking websites, once
       purely teen territory, attract all ages. The Boston Globe, pA1.


Teenage girls most avid users of social networking sites. (2007). The Press Trust of
       India.


Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (2007). List of social networking websites. Retrieved
       April 11, 2007, from
       http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_social_networking_websites&o
       ldid=122139825


Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (2007). Social network. Retrieved April 11, 2007,
       from
       http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Social_network&oldid=121925624


Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (2007). Social network service. Retrieved April 11,
       2007, from
       http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Social_network_service&oldid=122080
       040

								
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