Social networking sitesSocial networking sites are part of the new Internet revolution. Facebook, MySpace, Friendster and Bebo are the most famous of these sites. Members can set up their own profile telling people their name, hobbies, and what they have been up to. People share photos, video clips and their relationship status. The services are web-based and provide a way for users to interact, chat, message, email, and blog.
What is facebook?
According to Douglas Jasch, Facebook was created in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerburg and his two roommates. It was a free social networking site for Harvard University students. Within one month 6,000 people had joined up, so the developers extended its availability to all universities and schools in the USA as well as some universities in the UK.
These days anyone can join, and Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world with 350 million members. One of the reasons Facebook is so popular is because it is more exclusive than other sites. While anyone on the net can see your entire profile on MySpace, on Facebook all you can see is someone’s picture until you are accepted as a friend. On MySpace people have a lot of strangers as friends, whereas Facebook is filled with family, workmates and friends, which gives the site a sense of community.
Drawbacks: Face-book or Gossip-book?
By checking your friends profiles you can keep up-to-date on where they have been going out, what they did on their holidays and even what mood they are in, and that is actually what facebook is all about. However, you can also see either what they have written to other people you are not friends with or what these people you do not know have written to them. And this can give way to gossiping.
Tips: Try to keep your virtual community as real as possible, be very picky and refuse friend requests from people you have seen just once in your life, do not hesitate on eliminating old acquaintances (namely, people you went to kindergarten with and with whom you do not have anything in common anymore). After all, facebooking should be fun, and it is really an invaluable service for keeping in contact with friends and family, especially when they live in other states and/or other countries.
Facebook has been used by teachers who have created groups for their students to join them. These groups work like the yahoo groups, where students can post about different topics suggested by their teacher. Another useful facebook accessory for learning English is the posting of videos. Rather than using YouTube or emailing videos to students, the teacher can upload videos to his/her Facebook profile for all students to view.
Jasch, D. Facebook & social networking. Think in English magazine. No. 104. Year VIII. Madrid: Ediciones Mejora, S.L.