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Free «Social Web» Essay Sample

Introduction

The social web is an enormous, ever changing occurrence whose creation has enabled users to experience many new ways to use technology to network with others. Businesses and individuals have embraced social web to drive collaboration among physically separated teams, employees and other business contacts. The social web has become the largest way to mingle over the years. This research paper will define social web, the important features found in these websites, the related statistics of users, combinations and information found in the profiles of the majority of social networking websites. Finally the paper explores the advantages and disadvantages of using social networking websites. 

Social web includes social networking sites and social media sites. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) noted that the social web makes it possible for individuals to share user created contents online and to interact and stay connected with their online people networks. Social web sites help people establish online people networks and communicate ad stay connected with them. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) noted that the most popular social web sites include Facebook, Myspace, Windows Live Space, Habbo, Hi5, Bebo, Meebo, Friendster and Twitter. Research shows that Facebook has over 500 million users and MySpace each have over 120 million members. Social media sites help persons to share user created contents that are post, view, and express opinions on them (Swartz, 2010). The most popular social media sites include YouTube, Flickr, Digg, MetaCafe and Hulu (Spaniol, Li & Klamma, 2009). YouTube is the third most trafficked site among all social web sites after google and yahoo.

The most important features of social web include personal profiles, establishing connections, joining groups, communication among connections, information search, UCC sharing and expressing opinions. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) says that these aspects if well adapted can turn non social web into social web. Social web provides its users with a broad category of services. John & Lester (2010) indicated that the technologies used in social web are not only evolving but the features provided by the various services increasingly overlap. The services include messaging and communication, communities and social groups, photos and video sharing, social bookmarking and tagging, collaboration and cooperation, opinion and reviews and virtual worlds (John & Lester, 2010). 

Essential Social Features Found in Social Web

There are nine essential social features found in social web. These include personal profiles, establishing online connections, participating in online groups and communicating with online connections.  Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) noted that another essential feature entails sharing UCCs, expressing opinions, finding information, open API for third party applications and connecting with other sites. Personal profile is a personal homepage for members of a social web. Personal profile is used for a member to attract other members as online connections who may share common interest or background (Swartz, 2010).

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Social web enables us to establish online connections. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) mentioned that “a key asset to a member of a social web is the number and quality of online connections he or she has” (p. 14). Social web provide various means to help a member to build up his online connections (Bowles, 2010). When a member selects a connection the site sends friend request notice to the candidate (Miller, 2010). When the other party accepts the friend request, the online connection is established and they can view each others profile.

Social web helps users to participate in online groups. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) says that members can join any number of groups to browse the members of the groups, browse and post comments to discussion boards, receive notices about activities. The most important aspect of this feature is that only members may post comments and other UCCs.

Social web enables communication with online connections. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) noted that members of social web are given various means to communicate with their online connections. Social web facilitates communicating with online connections through email, text messaging, instant messaging, bulletin boards, blogs, comments and internet phone services such as Skype (Spaniol, Li & Klamma, 2009). 

Through the use of social web, members are allowed to view and post various types of UCCs. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) says that UCCs includes text comments, bookmarks, blogs, microblogs, photos, music, images and video. Members within the social web are requested to give titles and tags for the UCCs when they post them.

Social web enables users to express opinions about UCCs on the sites. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) noted that users can post comments on the UCCs, vote them, and forward them to other members and save them in blogs. Social web provides mechanism that enables users to find information. Spaniol, Li & Klamma (2009) indicated that the mechanisms for searching include key word based serach egines and browsing. For example members and non members can search for the names of people, groups, and specific UCCs. 

Demographics of Social Web

According to John & Lester (2010), the demographics of social web are evolving quickly and reacting to forces that are not always well understood. Some social media usage demographics have established crucial trends. In this context Twitter’s initial users included mostly older people between ages 25 to 44 years (Miller, 2010). However, in 2009 it began attracting a younger crowd hence 18-24 years represents Twitters fastest growing demographic segment. John & Lester (2010) say that “when Facebook membership was approaching the 500 million mark in 2010; the fastest growing segment appeared to be 25-65 years” (p. 5).

Table 1: Age groups found in social websites

Age group

Percentage Subscribers (%)

0-17

15

18-24

9

25-34

18

35-44

25

45-54

19

55-64

10

65+

3

The table above was obtained from:

Somesh, J, Sommer, R & Kreibich, C (2010). Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection: 13th

International Symposium, RAID 2010,Ottawa,Ontario,Canada,September 15-

17,2010,Proceedings. New York, NY: Springer.      

According to 2010 statistics, Lüsted (2011) noted that Facebook had more than 500 million active users. MySpace had more than 122 million. Traffic at the Twitter Web site increased from 2.5 million tweets a day in 2009 to almost 50 million by February 2010. Somesh, Sommer & Kreibich (2010) Facebook has the highest combination with other social web sites. This is because whereas Facebook aims to foster friendship, LinkedIn aims to foster business collaborations (Miller, 2010). Bowles noted that we can combine the business information about a user with the more personal, private information they may provide on the friendship site (2010). Swartz (2010) noted that the growth of social web sites has experienced a rising trend in terms of the user statistics as shown in the table 2 below.

Table 2: User statistics in social websites

Social Website

Estimated number of users (Million)

Facebook

500

MySpace

130

LinkedIn

75

Friendster

90

Stumbleupon

10

Twitter

140

NetLog

94

The table and graph above was obtained from:

Somesh, J, Sommer, R & Kreibich, C (2010). Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection: 13th

International Symposium, RAID 2010,Ottawa,Ontario,Canada,September 15-

17,2010,Proceedings. New York, NY: Springer.

Integration Occurrences among Social Networks

As social web matures, it is predicted that we will see increased integration, therefore enabling users to maintain a consistent online presence across all of the platforms upon which they participate. The result from the  table 3 below indicate that a potential attacker can easily abuse social networks to enrich his spamming list with the information retrieved from different social web sites (Miller, 2010).

Table 3: Top Ten combinations in the social web 

Combinations

Occurrences

Facebook-MySpace

57,696

Facebook-LinkedIn

49,613

Facebook-Twitter

25,759

Facebook-MySpace-Twitter

13,754

Facebook-LinkedIn-Twitter

13,733

Facebook-NetLog

12,600

Badoo-FriendSter

11,299

Facebook-Myspace-LinkedIn

9,720

LinkedIn-Twitter

8,802

MySpace-Twitter

7,593

The table above was obtained from:

Somesh, J, Sommer, R & Kreibich, C (2010). Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection: 13th

International Symposium, RAID 2010,Ottawa,Ontario,Canada,September 15-

17,2010,Proceedings. New York, NY: Springer.

The table 4 below provides an overview of general information found in majority social web such as profile photo, location, and friends available on the different networks. Somesh, Sommer & Kreibich (2010) indicated that the column profiles are open shows the percentage of how many profile were accessible and validate against the name and surname extracted. Profiles that are closed include profiles that are configured to be completely private or that are not accessible anymore.

Table 4: General information found in many social websites       

Network

Name

surname

Profile open

Photo

Location

Friends

Average Friends

Last Login

Profile vistors

Facebook

ü   

99.89

76.40

0.48

81.98

142

n/a

n/a

MySpace

ü   

96.26

55.26

63.59

76.50

137

94.87

n/a

Twitter

ü   

99.97

47.59

32.84

78.22

65

n/a

n/a

LinkedIn

ü   

96.79

11.80

96.79

96.75

37

n/a

n/a

Frirndster

ü   

99.72

47.76

99.51

50.23

37

8.79

n/a

Badoo

ü   

98.61

70.86

95.23

n/a

n/a

92.01

n/a

Netlog

ü   

99.98

43.40

77.54

64.87

31

n/a

73.33

XING

ü   

99.88

57.20

96.04

47.25

3

n/a

96.83

Different pieces of information can be either private or public and the social web provider assigns a default value for the privacy setting of them (Somesh, Sommer & Kreibich, 2010). Observation shows that many users do not change the default privacy settings for a specific type of information.

The table 5 below shows the availability of sensitive information on the social web. Somesh, Sommer & Kreibich (2010) says that depending on the purpose of the social network, different types of information are made public by default. Dating platforms focus on personal information such as age, sex and relationship status. On the other hand business social web focus on educational and work related aspects (Somesh, Sommer & Kreibich, 2010).

Table 5: Sensitive information found in social websites   

Social web

Age

Sex

Spoken language

Job

Education

Current relation

Searched relation

Sexual preference

Facebook

0.35

0.50

n/a

0.23

0.23

0.44

0.31

0.22

MySpace

82.20

64.87

n/a

3.08

2.72

8.41

4.20

4.07

Twitter

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

LinkedIn

n/a

n/a

n/a

96.79

6.68

0.00

n/a

n/a

Frirndster

82.97

87.45

n/a

30.88

2.72

64.59

77.76

n/a

Badoo

98.61

98.61

47.81

17.06

19.92

22.48

n/a

22.80

Netlog

97.66

99.99

44.56

43.40

1.64

25.73

23.14

29.30

XING

n/a

n/a

84.54

99.87

49.21

n/a

n/a

n/a 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Web

Social web allows businesses to interact and collaborate as teams. Shelly, Vermaat & Quasney (2008) says that while social networks have not been as popular as other forms of digital communications in business, their use is showing promise for many companies and groups who use it for business purposes. On the other hand online social web encourages people to collaborate with others with whom they typically would not collaborate. Shelly, Vermaat & Quasney (2008) further says that online social web and chat rooms can be accessed using internet enabled mobile devices, providing instant collaboration almost anywhere. They also provide forums for engaging and meeting new potential customers, employers and employees (Shelly, Vermaat & Quasney, 2008).

According to Shelly, Vermaat & Quasney (2008), web conferences programs found in majority of social web sites allow application program sharing, which means that all participants can view the contents of one or more participants computer screen. The disadvantage of using social web is that employees often over rely on these means of online digital communications and do not interact with others in more personal ways (Swartz, 2010). Another disadvantage of using online social web is that employees can divulge proprietary company information.  Shelly, Vermaat & Quasney (2008) says that “while engaging in social networks, people often hide their real identity to lure others into revealing too much personal information” (p. 202). Bullying is a major negative aspect that most notably affects teenagers, many of whom can be viciously competitive and vindictive without thinking of the consequences. Dale & Lewis (2010) says that the social media acts as prime avenue for humiliation and bullying.

Miller (2010) noted that social web is a giant and genuine sociological phenomenon among many teens and adults globally. Report shows that more than half 55% of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites (Miller, 2010). Dale & Lewis (2010) noted that the popularity of the social networking sites has helped to bridge many social gaps, particularly for teenagers. Social web has made huge difference for college students as well who can be in contact with more than just the students who happen not to meet in class (Dale & Lewis, 2010).Social web sites have helped the owners to generate huge amount of revenue through advertising. 

In conclusion, the underlying question is to determine if the benefits of social networking outweigh the potential costs. As individuals, businesses, governments and stakeholders appreciate the presence of social web, the society as a whole has a much easier way to communicate, keep in touch with friends, and get important information out to large groups. However people who use these social networking websites must be aware of the personal risks they are putting themselves into such a forum.

   

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