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Better Online Social Networks than Facebook?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/business/path-familyleaf-and-pair-small-by-design-social-networks.html?_r=0

 

Facebook is the most used online route for social networking today, but it is not the only one. The article discusses three other online social networks that are newer and lesser known but have some very appealing features for more intimate networking than Facebook.   One of the most frequently cited problems of Facebook by its users is the lack of constraint in people’s formation of social networks.   There is no limit in the number of “friends” one can have, and Facebook does not dictate a rule of how close of a relationship a person has to have to you in order to become your friend.   There are some limits that you can manually place, for example, on the posts you write or the pictures you upload on your wall, to prevent those with whom you do not want to share your posts from seeing them.  So Facebook does allow you to designate which friends can share what you have posted.  But as the article points out, it is often time consuming, and it can get out of control when you have over 500 friends.

I personally fond the idea of intimacy initiated by these newer social network start-ups like Path, FamilyLeaf, and Pair.   Their primary distinction from Facebook is the higher degree of constraint they put on people’s social network, so the users of such start-ups get to pick only the closest people and share the posts exclusively with them.   In terms of the concepts discussed in class, people’s social networks on Facebook could be represented by a graph of as many as infinite number of nodes, each of which is connected to others by strong and weak ties.  However, people can only have so many close people whose relationship to you can be represented by strong ties, so the edges of the graph representing Facebook networks would mostly be weak ties with only a few strong ties around you.   The article poses this as a problem that people need to carefully consider when posting things on Facebook because we can easily become oblivious of the fact that we might be sharing with some people that we don’t want to share with, those tied to us by weak relationship.   On the other hand, the newer social networking services offer various ways to avoid such problem.  The common objective of their unique methods is to keep close friends in and everyone else out.   Their graphs would be represented by much smaller size, with smaller number of nodes but connected with only the strong edges.  They do not allow subgroupings, either, so their graphs would not have more than one components—internally connected group of nodes—connected to other components by local bridges; instead, just one component would suffice their representation.

These micro-sized social networks would certainly eliminate some of the most serious inconveniences complained by Facebook users.  However, I do acknowledge that many people like the excitement of making new friends online and often have fun in expressing their opinions to the wide public.  Those people may find Path, FamilyLeaf, and Pair a little boring because they limit the number of people the users can interact with.  There are benefits and drawbacks to each style of online social networks, and it’s really up to us to decide which one we want to become part of.

 

-kay

Comments

One Response to “ Better Online Social Networks than Facebook? ”

  • Charles Sawyer

    “There is no limit in the number of “friends” one can have, and Facebook does not dictate a rule of how close of a relationship a person has to have to you in order to become your friend.”

    Both points here are false! Facebook does limit the amount of friends one can have and they do have rules dictating on who you are suppose to friend. If you don’t know the person, you are not suppose to friend them. And if someone you have friend says they don’t know you, your ability to friend is frozen for a time depending on how often that has happened to you! Last time I had someone say they didn’t know me, I was frozen for 14 days, and warned that if I violate that policy, my ability to friend would be indefinitely frozen! I hate that about FB! Google started out as a place with no limits but they have adopted the same number of friends you can have that FB has, 5000. I have hit that limit with G+ and can not add anyone else to it, so I am looking for a social network to promote that is truly limitless where networking is concerned!

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