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What is ‘Social’ by ‘Social Definitions’?

Social media – we live by it, companies are desperately trying to grasp it, and your older relatives are telling you it is rotting your brain. (Funny thing is they use it more than anyone!)

We are all familiar with the concept- create your profile, build your friend base…use it…use it…use it. But what actually is a social network and what makes it social? Why are all website social media? You can interact with people on them. You can create a profile on some of them, make comments, and engage with others, but many of our favorite websites that do this are not considered ‘social’ by the ‘social definition’.  So, what is a social network and what defines it? 

What is a social network?

Social networks are virtual communities, usually profile based, that bring people together who share certain interests or ideas, to interact with each other, make new friends, and post media. On social networks, millions of different people can create new content to be distributed, shared, or altered. Sounds similar to a website right? Wrong, there are 3 distinct features that a social network must have to define it as ‘social’.

What defines a social network?

A social networking site is defined as a web-based service that allows individuals to:

  1. Construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system. 
  2. Articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection. 
  3. View and traverse their list of connection and those made by others within in the system.

This defines a ‘true’ social network, according to a 2007 scholarly article by Boyd and Ellison.

Now that you know the true definition of a social network, which platforms that you use are ‘social’ by ‘social definitions’?

 

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