Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook & Grassroots Political Mobilization

By Robin Spielberger

Many have studied the varying relationships in the online public sphere of Facebook, from how messages spread within networks and the impact of the “influencer” on the individual, to how romantic actions such as becoming “Facebook Official” have transformed social norms.

An important area of debate revolves around the role of “strong ties” and “weak ties” – a measurement of the true depth of connections between individuals – in determining the behavior of online networks and their power to influence the offline world. Robin1

A study conducted in 2012 and published in the journal Nature, entitled “A 61 Million Person Experiment in Social Influence and Political Mobilization,” tested the idea that one’s voting behavior could be significantly influenced by messages found in News Feed on Facebook.

On Election Day, during the Congressional mid-terms of 2010, more than 60 million Facebook users were shown notifications on the top of their News Feeds, encouraging them to vote.

These notifications pointed to nearby polling locations, offered a places to click “I voted” and displayed icons of select friends who had already voted.

Two smaller groups of users were given messages encouraging them to vote but no data concerning which of their friends had voted, or were not given any messages concerning voting at all.

Robin3The University of California at San Diego and Facebook were able to analyze the voting behavior of approximately 6 million people using public records.  For this study, “close friends” were defined by how many times the users interacted online and were assumed to be more likely to have offline interactions.

The researchers found:

 

  • The data suggested that the Facebook social message increased voter turnout directly by close to 60,000 voters and indirectly by another 280,000 voters, totaling over 340,000 additional votes.
  •  “Strong ties” between Facebook friends proved to be much more influential than “weak ties.”  The “close friends” exerted at least four times more influence on the total number of voters mobilized than the generic message encouraging users to vote.  This indicates that online mobilization works because it spreads through “strong-tie” networks that have a good probability of existing offline but certainly have an online representation.
  •  “To put these results in context, it is important to note that [voter] turnout has been steadily increasing in recent U.S. midterm elections, from 36.3% of the voting-age population in 2002 to 37.2% in 2006, and to  37.8% in 2010.”
  •  The 340,000 additional votes which were attributed to Facebook notifications represent approximately “0.14% of the voting population of about 236 million in 2010.…It is possible that more of the 0.60% growth in turnout between 2006 and 2010 might have been caused by a single message on Facebook.”

The researchers note that this study has a number of implications:

“First and foremost, online political mobilization works.  It induces political self-expression, but it also induces information gathering and real, validated voter turnout.  Although previous research suggested that online messages do not work, it is possible that conventional sample sizes may not be large enough to detect the modest effect sizes shown here.  We also show that social mobilization in online networks is significantly more effective than informational mobilization alone.  Showing familiar faces to users can dramatically improve the effectiveness of a mobilization message.”

For more information about Facebook Politics click here.

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Motivations for using MySpace and Facebook

By Amelia Ables

Uses and gratifications theory explains the reasons people use certain media and what keeps them coming back.  Essentially, it explains the needs and wants of the users and how these needs and wants are satisfied, in this case through the use of social media.  The uses and gratifications of MySpace and Facebook are discussed in an article in Human Communication by Mark A. Urista, Qingwen Dong, and Kenneth Day, which reported the results of focus groups conducted with 50 undergraduate young adults.

The five main uses for MySpace and Facebook that were discovered were efficient communication, convenient communication, curiosity about others, popularity, and relationship information and reinforcement.

The study shows why young adults use social network sites.   It shows that through the use of social media, they are able to get the things they want quickly and are therefore satisfied.

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Facebook and romantic relationships

by Senwhaa Lim

In an article titled Reading romance: The impact Facebook rituals can have on a romantic relationship, Greg Bowe compares photographs, relationship status, and public displays of affection and the resulting themes by conducting interviews with college students.

For his research, Bowe conducted interviews with heterosexual, undergraduate students who were either in the third or fourth year of college. The interviews lasted from one and a half hours to two hours.  Interviewed students consisted of seven females and four males who were all involved in romantic relationships. The students answered questions about why they joined Facebook and their main reasons for using the social media site.  When answering questions about relationships on Facebook and how Facebook impacts them, they focused on relationship status, public displays of affection (PDA), and photographs.

Changing the relationship status on Facebook allows a couple to announce to the masses of their friends that they are officially a couple.  This is a considered a big step because it means that the couple had to discuss this topic with his or her partner before putting it on Facebook.  Not all interviewees changed their relationship status.  The ones who decided to change it did it because it brought certainty and assurance to the relationships.  One of the interviewees said, “When I first met him, he was a bit of a player…it was a little extra fix and a safety net. I was very happy with it.” The interviewees who decided not to change their relationship status on Facebook declared that was unnecessary and cite privacy being imperative.

Public displays of affection between romantic partners symbolize possession and sometimes represent superiority.  Examples of PDA include: making inside jokes on each other’s walls or putting up photographs with “I love you” and “I miss you” as captions.  Reasoning for PDA was to ensure a “presence was there” against old and new potential partners, portraying to others their “perfect relationship,” and self-promotion.  Interviewees admitted that they do this to invoke jealousy in others who aspire to be in a relationship.  One interviewee stated that he only did because his girlfriend pressured him to and he did not want to disappoint her.

Photographs are the primary cause of jealousy on Facebook, especially the ones that were taken from a previous relationship they had been in.  Partners pressure their significant others delete or “de-tag” themselves.  Some concede and some refuse, saying that someone would only see it if they were “stalking her profile,” which is looking way into the past on someone’s page. There was one interviewee whose boyfriend was not on Facebook, but still experienced jealousy when her boyfriend’s picture popped up on a mutual friend’s Facebook showing him getting cozy with other girls. Even though her boyfriend was not on Facebook, the social media site still managed to cause a rift in their relationship.

            The researched conducted by Bowe shows that depicting one’s relationship status online means that one is serious about the relationship.  Jealousy arises from photographs with ex-partners and comments by ex-partners.  When jealousy and angered feelings are evoked through Facebook, partners usually confront their partner offline instead of solving it on Facebook.   Relationship status shows possession and a more serious step in the romantic relationship.  The reasoning behind PDA is to claim possession, invoke jealousy in others, and to convey to others what a “perfect relationship” one has.  Even though people can be somewhat private on Facebook, jealousy can find a way to inhibit a relationship.  With his research, Bowe shows that the online relationship can impact the offline relationship of a couple.  

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