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Transcending the Social Network: Facebook’s Expansion

SOURCE: Facebook Isn’t the Social Network Anymore

Fundamentally, Facebook can be defined as a social media site; users interact with one another by engaging with each other’s content and make new friends by connecting through “mutual” friends. In the beginning, Facebook users constantly updated their statuses and uploaded pictures to share about their personal lives. This is what enticed so many people and ultimately led to the tremendous growth of Facebook, which now has 1.6 billion users, 1 billion of which are active daily. However, as Facebook grew and continues to grow, its users have shifted away from constantly sharing personal information. Instead, there has been a tremendous shift towards sharing information, particularly news. We see this through Facebook’s push to place trending topics right at the top of the home page and a dedicated news feed.

With these details, it has become evident that Facebook has transcended from just a friends (social) network and has grown to become a “personalized portal to the online world” (Oremus). Put simply, what used to be just edges between friends, Facebook has undergone a, sort-of, cultural shift that has led to the expansion of an individual’s social network to include other organizations, particularly businesses and news outlets. On a graph, nodes would not only be users, there would also be businesses that we interact from our searches and news organizations that we click on when scrolling through our feeds. Ultimately, these added nodes creates more ways for people to connect. For example, if users A and B are linked by an edge to the Buzzfeed, the triadic closure property says users A and B are likely to form an edge.

Facebook’s expansion from a social media website to “a company that aspires to dominate online media consumption” (Oremus), has effected networks tremendously. As businesses and news organizations penetrate our social networks, we are bombarded with information from a multitude of outlets. Consequently, these organizations are also able to gather information about our behavior on an unprecedented level. Businesses are able to track what products you’re interested in, and in turn, are able to cater advertisements towards specific users. Likewise, news organizations are able to push articles and videos that are more likely to pique our interests from tracking information. Thanks to the exchange of information between users and a variety of organizations, we see that networks are living organisms that adapt to their environment; thus, the addition of even just one node can have an impact on the entire ecosystem.


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September 2017