“Jess is looking forward to the weekend”, “Jess is hung over”, “Jess has sooo much work to do”, “Jess is in love”… and so on… These are tame examples of people’s statuses on Facebook. Don’t know what Facebook is? Where have you been for the past few years? Facebook is the fastest growing social-media, networking site in the world! It is the place where people market themselves to each other and stay in contact.
Founded by Mark Zuckerberg, with co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, in his Harvard dorm room, Facebook now has more than 100 million active users (see statistics). Facebook is a part of (almost) everyone’s life, with it having a translation application for 21 languages, it is almost impossible to avoid it. It is a way of communication, interaction, networking, staying in touch with friends and even a way of flirting. It is everywhere.
Now there is the thing called the Profile Page. The Profile Page is where you set up your virtual identity. A space is provided for the best photo you can find of yourself posing like a supermodel, or for those nonchalant types, a space to put the craziest picture. The status bar; an expression of feelings or just a place to whine and show off? Then there are the applications and wow, there are many of them; from games, to online dating, to diet diaries, to learning French. There is always something for everyone.
But what does Facebook really do? What is its purpose? For the common man, or woman, it is a chance to put forward the best you can do and market yourselves as the person you want to be seen as. Accumulating as many "friends" as possible is a must. Areas for comment are always available as well as the opportunity to stalk other people on their profile pages. Of course, privacy and security can be as limited or unlimited as you want. But for Facebook? A source of 100 million people and their information. Basically, it is market research in the large scale, a business that doesn’t have to look for the information because the information is given directly to them; a world-wide database of who likes what movies or listens to what genre of music; a chance to access what you, as the user, have wanted the world to know. An archive of identities.
Identity forms a large part of Facebook. The whole concept is made up of you creating a supposedly compact version of yourself to fit into a page; picking up on the best assets and omitting the bad liabilities. This personal identity may not correlate one hundred percent with your real life identity, but that’s the point. It is a chance to create what you want to create and add what you think is applicable. And together, Facebook forms a virtual community with many identities.
If any of you have watched Minority Report, the scene where Tom Cruise is walking through a shopping mall and the interactive advertisements are individually talking to him, which is an advanced version of how the information that you provide to Facebook is used. I know perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but Facebook is a social directory for sharing information with one another and without us knowing it, we are participating in the largest global-research project known to man kind.
So with an estimated value of $8 billion by 2015, an the average person logging on approximately four times a day, no wonder Facebook is the fastest growing social-media, virtual community in the world. Welcome to Facebook.