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Social Computing: Study on the Use and Impact of Online Social Networking

  • Authors: Romina Cachia
  • EUR Number: 23565 EN
  • Publication date: 11/2008

Abstract

While social networking is a phenomenon which has existed since the beginning of societies, online Social Networking Sites (SNS) are a recent trend. In less than five years, sites like Facebook and MySpace, have shifted from a niche online activity to a phenomenon in which tens of millions of internet users are engaged. Discussion on the emergence of a new social phenomenon has permeated both industry and academia. However, there has been little research on the socio-economic impact of these sites in the European context.
This study presents results of a case study on SNS, as part of an exploratory research project. It argues that though SNS can appear to be similar, many of them are, in fact, quite different in terms of purpose and use. In general, these sites have led to new ways of managing and maintaining social networks, whereby personal profiles and social networks are being visualised and disclosed to others and the boundaries between the virtual and the real are disappearing. As a result, both opportunities and concerns arise. Policymakers should be aware of these and researchers should further investigate their implications.

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