In recent years, social networking sites have become a prominent part of individual’s daily lives. For my blogs from week three through eight I have decided to analyse Facebook. In the last 3 years, users of Facebook have more than doubled with now 11,150,000,000 members (Ben Foster, 2013) using the site regularly. When I first joined Facebook in 2009, I didn’t like the experience, I had limited ‘friends’ on my account and as a result my Facebook profile wasn’t stimulating and I quickly lost interest. However, as the site’s popularity increased so did my friends list and I have since become an active member of Facebook.
Petray (2013) mentioned three types of power in the week two lecture, Dominant; which is enforced by fear felt by others, competitive; when one envies another, and cooperation; power shared equally amongst everyone. From my experience with Facebook, it is not limited to one particular type of power. I believe a social hierarchy is evident when using Facebook. Although Facebook’s intention is to give all users a sense of ‘cooperative power’, the amount of ‘following’ individual users can gather has the ability to give that person a stronger influence over individuals, giving them a greater feeling of power, and in turn make those with a smaller group of ‘friends’ feel a sense of limited say or support.
The ‘Dominant’ power in Facebook is given to the site itself; it has the ability to restrict a users privileges when they do not follow the site’s rules such as spamming other people can result in having your ‘like’ and ‘comment’ button disabled. The police also have a ‘Dominant’ power in Facebook; law enforcement becomes a dominant power when offences such as cyber bullying, nudity, and violent threats arise. I believe Sherry Turkle (1955) was correct in likening the internet to the Panopticon, members are unaware of when or if they are monitored when using the social site, this persuades individuals to behave appropriately. Those with ‘competitive power’ are celebrities, government figures, and people with an incredibly large following on Facebook (i.e. Likes on a page or ‘friends’). Individuals with a large variety of ‘friends’ are able to spread their ideas, values and beliefs to a wider community, this gives them a greater chance at gaining more support and traffic through their profile and this may cause those with limited ‘friends’ to feel envy, and even awe of those who have such power. Lastly, those with an average amount of ‘friends’ usually don’t have an extended connection through strangers as their ‘friend’ list is limited to friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances made over time. The majority of Facebook uses have ‘cooperative power’ although their ‘friends list’ may slightly vary in size, they all have a shared power over their own profiles, who they choose to connect with, what and when they choose to post, the information and images they want to share, but they do not have a great influence or connection with a large quantity of people.
To some, they may feel powerless in the Facebook world due to constantly seeing and comparing themselves to individuals with a large following. I believe this is because the internet doesn’t give an accurate view and feel of physical space, as mentioned by Petray (2013) in the week 3 lecture. To Facebook users it may seem limited and confined to the room they’re sitting in when they’re accessing the site, but in reality, Facebook is on a much larger scale, with members spread throughout all different parts of the globe.
Feel free to visit the following site for statistics of current Facebook users world-wide.
I. Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 2: Power. [Notes] Retrieved from http://learnjcu.edu.au
II. Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the Screen: Identity in the age of the internet. New York, USA: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.
III. Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 2: Power. [Notes] Retrieved from http://learnjcu.edu.au
IV. Foster, B. (2013). How Many Users on Facebook? Retrieved August 15, 2013 from http://www.benphoster.com/facebook-user-growth-chart-2004-2010/
I. Retrieved August 15, 2013 from http://frankmedia.com.au/2013/05/01/social-media-statistics-australia-april-2013/