Sister: “Do you really know 999 people?”
Sister: “Then why exactly do you have so many friends on Facebook?
Me: “I don’t know, I just do.”
After the Spanish inquisition of Facebook related questions that my near 40 year old sister asked me, I actually delved into my friend list with perpetual curiosity as to who these 999 people actually were. Sure, they were my “friends”, but were they really? I realized there were a considerable amount I didn’t know or hadn’t spoke to in… I couldn’t even remember how long. There began the defriending. And afterward came the guilt. Was that mean? Will they notice and think I did it to be mean? In my haste to be more of a professional Facebook-er, I forgot the social awkwardness that comes with the act of defriending and filtering your friends list.
“Its easier just to say yes.”
claimed a user that she interviewed as part of data collection to prove her point that the concept of friending and being “friends” with someone in a social media outlet does not necessarily imply that they are part of an external social sphere. However, this opens up the doors to a number of concerns, especially among parents. What if these “friends” are fake? Or predators? Or bullies? I can comfortably say that even within this class someone has either bullied or been bullied via AIM, iChat, Facebook even within the 140 character limitations of Twitter. Social media has afforded these ugly and distasteful activities to fester among, especially, the youth of our modern society.
A large majority of Boyd’s concepts within the article are still heavily relevant. She mentions the emergence of Friendster, the first “real” social media network site that launched in about 2003. The purpose of Friendster, which I must admit I had never heard of until this article, was for people to create an interconnected web of their legitimate acquaintances on a virtual and web-based scale. So basically, ideally rather, a friend on friendster was your friend in real life. This was definitely not the case. People did not take this seriously, and thus came the birth of the faux friendsters, more informally (and formally) known as fakesters (. Fakesters could be any type of person, commercial interest, “celebrity” or any other type of entity that just held no real value in contributing to the desired outcome the Friendster creators were hoping for. The one positive aspect of these fakesters was that they linked like-minded individuals who chose to add these pages and entities to their list of “friends.” If you consider this in Facebook terms or terminology, you immediately can jump to fan pages (that are legitimate!) and commercial pages created by businesses, celebrities, athletes as well as a multitude of other individuals. Twitter will even verify your account! So you know that when you follow Justin Bieber, it’s not a fweeter (fake tweeter). Perhaps the fakester genocide sparked an idea in Mark Zuckerberg, a need or demand that would need to be met in a new social media outlet. If Boyd were to re-evaluate the necessity or demand for the fakester entities, I think that including the concept of commercial Facebook pages, used for promotion, marketing as well as information spreading purposes (something that Nancy Baym also stated gives us as users a certain empowerment to mold the technology to our own personal needs) would be relevant in why the fakester profiles were created in the first place.
Before I make Facebook sound like the revolutionary, proper, and truthful I should disclose that there has been an epidemic of “fake-likes” that have diluted the legitimately popularity of certain people and pages. Marketing companies, like fishbat, have relied and invested heavily on the use of Facebook to promote companies and their products. Subsequently, the phrase “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin'” applies directly to this. Companies began to generate fake “likes” to make their clients products look more attractive and popular than they really are. In theory, this practice is instant gratification, entirely useless in the legitimate promotion of a given product. This article describes the motivation behind companies desire to do this, and exactly what Facebook is trying to do about it. To save face, Facebook has publicly declared a deletion frenzy of these fake “likes” in order to maintain the integrity of the website. Touche, Zuckerberg.
According to Boyd’s original argument, fakesters and these fake “likes” would be relatives. However, had she written the article a mere 5 years later, she would have acknowledged that the fake “likes” would be the children of fakesters, in the sense that the fakester, or in the case of Facebook, “pages”, were purposely and tactfully created for a purpose, but along came an element of faux popularity. Yet we as individuals maintain our human nature of competition, whether it be truthful or illicit method for getting ahead, if the technology affords it, we will find a way.