Social networks are one of those phenomena of modern society referring to which one cannot draw a fine and thin line in terms of their effect. Probably the most notable and widely discussed social network is Facebook: since its appearance in 2004, it managed to gather 750 million adherents with unique accounts from all over the world. As the data goes back to October 2011, half a year that has passed since must have changed figures in growing direction. A lot of users consider Facebook to be more than addictive: many spend months trying to give up, curse the day when they became members of the social network, and even resort to blaming Mark Zuckerberg for outright money-making. Others pay no attention to its questionable vices and feel completely happy and comfortable visiting Facebook every day and being active users. The latter have their persuasive reasons, which are to be revealed further.
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Everyone had an opportunity to get acquainted with an intricate and a little artistically decorated story of this powerful web organism described in 2010 Academy Awards winning movie The Social Network, directed by David Fincher. Initially based on exclusivity of membership, Facebook moved forward towards all-inclusiveness and completely unbiased member selection and registration process, which turned out to be a right choice. Could such a rapid growth and popularity be explained by something other than real and frank appreciation and approval of users? People cannot be hold online against their will. Facebook membership is a conscience and voluntary choice. Thus, there must be something interesting and exciting on the site that attracts so many users daily and that helps constantly widen the user net.
Facebook stands out among other social networks due to simplicity of interface and user-friendliness. The site is self-explanatory since the very beginning; even young users and those who do not feel free in the internet at all can easily use it. Another benefit of Facebook is its universality: the site is practically not theme-affiliated, which makes it available and comfortable for use of a broad audience. Unlike, for instance, Last.fm, which is a great network but has a narrow music specialization, Facebook is focused on communication only, not restricting it to peculiar topics or formats. Without doubt, other social networks, like MySpace, Twitter or LiveJournal have their loyal user base, but the one possessed by Facebook is larger and more diverse. The interface and general functional properties of the networks also differ greatly. Internet users are free to choose the network they feel more comfortable in. The main objective of being a member of a social network is the ability to stay in touch with people and to be aware of the current events. It is the most convenient way to communicate with those who live in some distance from the user. Facebook facilitates this process both on the messaging and commenting level; it even presents the video calling service (since summer of 2011). Getting acquainted and finding new friends and like-minded constitute the initial intentions of appearance of all social networks. They are meant to unite people. Facebook is a fruitful field for establishing contacts. Users are offered thousands of various interest groups where everyone may find something informative, exciting or supportive.
Social plugins also belong to the factors favoring success of a social network. Convenient Facebook interface facilitates the exchange of information greatly. The modern demand is simplicity of information sharing. Social plugins present on the majority of news portals and other social networks enable quick and simple one-click sharing of any information users find relevant and worth of reposting. News item design on the user’s Wall is also very informative as it possesses all the data of the initial source. Such information sharing mechanism is a great invention, and its functionality and applicability is proved by the positive feedback and extended use.
Another aspect of evaluation is economic/PR considerations. Creative people and all those (businessmen, merchants) who strive for recognition and for the world to know them better (paying considerable attention to the financial side of such fame) may appreciate all the benefits that Facebook can provide. When it comes to resorting to word of mouth, nothing helps better than social networks: Facebook policy prohibiting total contact list secrecy makes an idea or a person popular by reposting. Sharing something of worth with the world is always more effective when using networks with a large amount of members. Facebook fulfills this demand completely. But the expected profit is not the only reason; self-realization is, probably, even more important. Facebook enables quick feedback, thus numerous viewpoints on a definite work of art or idea. The creator can not only share but get an immediate response, which must not be underestimated.
Internet security begins to obtain more and more recognition in the modern world. All the Facebook users are introduced to firm and definite security terms. Confidentiality settings are available to all users who desire to make certain side of their life and activity on the site private and inaccessible. Moreover, Facebook users can control the amount of personal data entered into the web; for example, they may choose to resort to nicknames instead of real names and surnames – and still enjoy all the services provided by the site. All the constantly appearing allegations of internet spying with the help of social networks – of which Facebook as the most popular website gets the largest share – are significantly overrated. Besides, every sensible user can be reasonable enough not to post and share any truly personal data. The bottom line is that Facebook provides all the security possible in the given circumstances, but the users must understand the stretching of the limits of these circumstances. All the websites are not so reliable regarding this issue, and making this social network a scapegoat is at least unfair.
Mobility of social networks is definitely among those aspects which contribute to their popularity. Being a modern invention, social networks should constantly remain up-to-date and feel the pulse of the world community. Facebook, in line with the general trend, has been a subject to numerous innovations during its prolific existence. There is an established feedback system, enabling the developers and technical support staff to trace the ones that gain popularity and eliminate those which prove to be unsuccessful.
Over the years the social network Facebook grew into such a powerful entity that it became difficult to be controlled, so it demands a fair share of inner discipline from the users. Taking into consideration everything mentioned, one cannot avoid the recognition of the fact that Facebook became a stable and important part of everyday life. It is a phenomenon people have to deal with and put up with, if necessary. As there is nothing completely positive (as well as negative) in the world, Facebook opponents also have a right to express themselves, but the ultimate choice always rests with the user. And the enumerated factors to support the advantages of this social network should be, by all means, considered before disregarding it.