The Cycle of Social Networking Sites

There are many definitions of friends online and offline. The meaning of friends has broadened to include good friends, best friends, acquaintances, and friends pertaining to different contexts. People can decide to make online friends to make connections or for no specific reason at all. In the article “Friends, Friendsters, and Myspace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Network Sites,” Danah Boyd talks about the Myspace top friends list and how it was an important aspect of Myspace profiles because it demonstrated who one valued more than other in the connections that they have made on the social networking system. Boyd notes the context that these connection creating online. These connections created subcultures and created norms for users.

Danah Boyd’s article should update her article on the uses of Myspace bulletins. The Myspace of 2006 was successful in connecting people and providing a place where context could be made because of those connections. Boyd states that as Friends are made on social networking sites such as Myspace, contexts are created that allow for “vital messages” to spread that are appropriate to the community. Boyd recounts how Myspace’s bulletins helped rally teens for a protest against an immigration bill. These bulletins were once useful for spreading news about protests. In my use of Myspace in my high school years I had never seen bulletins as a tool for engaging political action; most posts consisted of rants, answers to random questionnaires and those creepy email-like chain letters. Boyd’s analysis on bulletins is that it allowed people to learn about protests and spread that information easily to others. The network of connections allowed for this information to be posted from one context to another facilitating the information flow. An update would be useful on the use of Myspace’s bulletin’s because, Myspace is no longer a popular social media sites where people will be going to look for this kind of information.

In the new launch of Myspace, there does not appear to be a space for the bulletin. In the article “New Myspace will be complete Overhaul” by Kevin Sablan, he states that

“Gone are words like bulletin and blog. People are no longer friends, they’re now connections.”

What has replaced bulletins ability to organize protest events, are more popular sites such as Twitter. Tweets played a large part in toppling the government in Tunisia and Egypt, know as the Arab Spring. The new norm is for users to use different social media platforms to spark protests. While Boyd accounted or Myspace’s unique use of the bulletin, she must take into the account the many social media platforms that, since the “fall” of Myspace, have proven to function in the same way. The motivation for users now is to expand how much they can connect to others and spread information for movements. Twitter apps such as Twitition have even facilitated the use of petitions.

Boyd was right in noting that on most social networking sites, people join and become friends with other as a way of creating context. She describes that subcultures emerged out of the first users of Friendster, and others joined the site as a way of connecting their interests. In her article Boyd states that

“Their profiles signaled what type of people belonged and their communication practices conveyed what types of behaviors one could expect.”

This was true of Myspace in its last most popular days. If you were a user of Myspace in 2008, you knew what type of people had a Myspace and what they used it for, this was the way that norms would form. Back in 2008, Myspace was popular amongst teens who wanted to discover new music. Based on Myspace’s new launch, it seems that they are still moving in that direction. In “Myspace previews redesigned site: It’s pretty, but will it work?” by Deborah Netburn, she explains that Myspace was still popular amongst musicians after everyone made the switch to Facebook. What is most interesting is that in a survey of Myspace users in 2011

“60% said they continued to stay on the site in the hope of getting discovered.”

These interest driven groups stayed on Myspace, while most users of Myspace left with their friends and context creating groups, to Facebook. I find it interesting that Myspace strategized to have their site become a place for all the Friendster rejects would go to make Friends with anyone they wanted to, as Boyd notes in her article.  Boyd also recognized that groups of people, not just individuals wanted to be part of social networking sites as well. It seems that Myspace is emerging again as an alternative to, what I believe is the now boring and creepy Facebook. I remember in high school when people slowly started making the move to Facebook. One friend deleted most the content on her myspace and left a profile song and a message stating that she would be on Facebook because it was better. This might suggest that every social media network has its moments and new sites will enhance the experience, and remediate the technologies that previous sites had.

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One comment

  1. I think you bring up some very interesting notions about friendship and connections that are so central to social networking. I agree with your thoughts regarding MySpace and the bulletins. I was never a witness to them serving as political platforms, either. I think what would be interesting to think about, and what I was thinking about while reading your post, would be how these ideas apply to the use of Twitter during last night’s presidential debate. The debate was the topic of the most tweets in American political history. Twitter, as a social networking site, definitely served as a vehicle of political rally among people of all ages. The site’s very structure is almost that of a bulletin, so it was easy for political rally to spark due to Twitter’s facilitation of a sense of immediacy. You had mentioned this in regards to the Arab Spring and I was just wondering if you thought the presidential debate caused similar actions on Facebook. Furthermore, you brought up how MySpace communities became very specific. I agree with this because like you said, there was a very large artistic and music-related community that formed and basically took over MySpace. Do you think that there’s anyway that could potentially happen on Facebook at all in the future? Why do you think it happened on MySpace?

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