Having 2.70 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest social networking service platform that connects people from all around the world. Upon signing up freely with our profiles, we can easily look for friends, work colleagues, and people with the same interests online to share our daily lifestyles and stories through posts, pictures, and videos. Having a Facebook account became a kind of compulsory culture in this society to interact with people in schools and works.
Can you imagine a world without Facebook? It has created a large global social networking platform that allowed people from all around the world to keep in touch with a simple connection to the internet. Also, providing a connection between the users and business with personalized advertisements and users’ feedback channels, Facebook became a marketing platform that impacted several economic boosts. Furthermore, as it provides a multilingual discussion board among friends, this had gathered people of all ages and races to easily socialize and to participate in cultural and political events. Let us go through these transformative effects of Facebook in detail.
History of Facebook
Let us watch this video by IG UK to have a brief introduction on how Facebook developed.
It all began with a simple website to connect students from Harvard. Referring to Facebook’s history page (“Company Info”, n.d.), back in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard university roommates, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes developed this simple idea into an “online directory that connects students to different universities.” (Labay, 2020) It expanded the site to all users of different ages and nationalities by requiring a simple valid email address to sign up.
Adding a news feed onto the friends’ network, Facebook solidified its identity as a social media platform that allows the sharing of thoughts and media among friends worldwide. As Facebook users mostly use their real names and identities for the profile, it is easy to look for people and to follow them. This created an easy way of communication through posting and even private communication through chatting compared to using emails and messages as users must have known the specific email address and phone number to start communicating in the past.
Since internet users usually post their details especially for Facebook users who mostly use real identity for a profile, the privacy issue increased. Hence, the Data policy is implemented to ensure the safety of the users’ data usage without being used in other unwanted platforms. Also, users can set their privacy settings to control their data privacy. This is important as evaluating users’ practices on privacy can “assist in the development of privacy policies” (Young, & Quan-Haase, 2013, p. 495) to provide a better safety environment for all users in the future.
Business model of Facebook
Facebook is currently owned mostly by the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of it, Mark Zuckerberg. According to his article on Facebook’s business model, it is focused on the idea of “everyone should have a voice and be able to connect” (Zuckerberg, 2019). Hence, Facebook provides a free blank board for the users to fill with their thoughts and ideas using words, pictures, and videos as well as sharing them to interact with their friends. Together with various platforms including WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, and Oculus, these free platforms were provided with a help of ads that are personalized according to each users’ preferences. Hence, small businesses can connect with the target users to gain useful reviews on their ideas and to provide better outcomes.
Therefore, Facebook mainly earns revenue from advertising where businesses pay for Facebook’s user-targeted advertisements, users get a free unlimited source of entertainment through NewsFeed, and the users then provide useful information for Facebook to create an algorithm of targeted users for businesses. Thus, Facebook aims to build a safe communal society that benefits socially and economically overall.
Internet ecology of Facebook
The internet ecology refers to “the organizations and communities that help the internet work and evolve” (Who Makes the Internet Work: The Internet Ecosystem, 2020). Hence, for social media platforms to maintain their well-being, they must interact with various interdependent actors. Especially for Facebook which mainly focuses on the advertising business, they need to work together with technologists, operators, and partners to provide the users with the best internet services for maintaining and developing its platform.
Facebook works with various partners that provide content such as “Movies, TV Shows, Gaming, Music and News articles.” (Gupta, 2020) to the users so that they can fill the timeline with unlimited content to keep the users entertained.
Also, Facebook continues to collaborate with advertising technology groups, IT groups that work on mobile applications and devices, payment systems, and browsers to develop on the Facebook service align with the evolution of digital devices and technologies.
Transformative effect of Facebook
Use of internet
Facebook provided us with a whole new way of communication where people can just look for the names of their friends over all the countries to add friends and to contact them. To contact with any people, one had to know their specific email address or phone number before social media platform appeared. It was even hard to contact people from overseas as they shared different social network platforms in their languages. Hence, providing with multi-language and service that connect people from all around the world, Facebook created an easier way of using internet to interact with people.
Although online communication was unfamiliar before, according to Buechel & Berger (2012), Facebook allowed every user to share own thoughts and feelings online to gain emotional support from friends which would be otherwise difficult to act offline. Hence, many found online communication platform comfortable to share personal life aspect and to share with friends to create a community, leading Facebook to constantly attract users, familiarizing the online platform as a communication medium.
Social and political Effect
Facebook had changed on how people socialize one another through diverse global platform. It enables close connection between friends even if they are staying far apart and create involvement and engagement in the same community to build and maintain friendship. According to the research done by Hurt, Moss, Bradley, Larson, Lovelace, Prevost, Riley, Domizi, & Camus (2012), the Facebook’s easy usage and simple interface, provided students with a preferred platform for participating in online discussion compared to any of initial university platforms.
Also, using Facebook for educational purpose created “a sense of social connectedness and support” (Thai, Sheeran, & Cummings, 2019, p. 48 ) for the students. Hence, people’s way of thinking on interaction with friends had changed that students could easily build and maintain close relationship with their friends through online communication.
To add with, according to the research by Hanna, Kee, & Robertson (2017), Facebook also created a positive relationship through its usage in work. The connectivity among the co-workers enhanced the job satisfaction and further interaction with the co-workers with similar interests. Therefore, Facebook provided a new way of understanding the school and work colleagues in depth through interaction in online platform, enhancing the social connectivity to create a better environment.
As recent trends and articles are continuously uploaded on the NewsFeed, people get more easily aware of the political issues and how people think about the online discussion board through the commenting function on Facebook. Hence, the increased awareness arouses people’s participation, lead the society to have “positive associations between Facebook use and both off- and online political participation” (Yanqin, Lee, & Eunyi, 2018, p. 380).
Continuing with, as young people are the main users of social media, they would also be aware of the political issues. The younger generation who are more familiar on using social media, they can create “newer forms of political involvement online” (Holt, Shehata, Strömbäck, & Ljungberg, 2013, p. 31) such as online petition and campaigns such as “I Voted” campaigns to spread the issues. Therefore, society would have more equal voices in political views and increase their participation easily through online methods.
Facebook helps with the global economy by providing a connection between consumers and businesses. As anyone can post reviews about certain products, it gives the companies “valuable information about their products and how consumers relate to them” (Mihalcea, & Savulescu, 2013, p. 45) to improve on existing ideas and to come up with new designs that fulfill the needs of consumers.
Net Facebook Ad Revenues Worldwide, 2018-2022 (Enberg, 2020)
Also, through the research done by Jones, Borgman, & Ulusoy (2015), the small businesses benefited from the ads on the social networking sites including Facebook by promoting the right ads to the target users. Hence, this introduced a new type of business model online that users and small business both benefit from using the Facebook where users can use the platform freely with receiving engaging personalized ads and contents, and small business can promote smartly towards their target users and enhance the image of them through communication with users. Referring to the estimation, the Ad Revenues of Facebook will continue to grow in upcoming years.
Social and cultural movement
Due to its function that people can easily receive current issues and participate in them, Facebook is used as a common medium for mobilizing social movements by providing a useful tool for activists to “broadcast their message to the public” (Pickard, & Berman, 2019, p. 101). By using hashtags and tagging friends, the participation movements can spread quickly on the platform. Also, with the Facebook group, people with the same interests can easily gather to share thoughts and ideas and to promote further spreading social awareness.
Referring to the research by Schwab, & Greitemeyer (2015), although people mostly tend to communicate with those of similar ages country, Facebook reduced this cultural gap by providing a virtual platform that intercultural users can easily gather to communicate together. In a virtual community, people can approach others with ease where it would be difficult for some in the real world. Hence, this online community creates an opportunity to talk with other cultural groups, creating a more positive impression on inter-group relations to approach. With this positive thought on global cultures, people can easily approach other country’s cultural issues, resulting in spreading the news globally for greater cultural change.
Let us watch a video by Facebook App on how the global connection of Facebook created a positive social movement!
Overall, Facebook has created a new form of a convenient communication platform that connects all users globally which introduced different forms of social and political interaction and movements. Furthermore, with its personalized ads, Facebook provides users with unlimited resources of contents and provides the businesses with an effective resource for suitable advertising which leads to overall economic growth.
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