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Posted by kaori 03/11/2009 @ 00:13

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News headlines
Xbox Gains Facebook and Twitter Integration - PC World
Twitter and Facebook will soon be coming to the system, Microsoft announced Monday, bringing an interactive boost to the entertainment console. The Xbox Twitter-Facebook integration, revealed at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles,...
US military joins Twitter, Facebook - CNET News
According to the Associated Press, the US military in Afghanistan is launching a Facebook page, a youtube site, and Twitter feeds as part of a new communication effort. Officials said this would help the military reach those who get their information...
Teen charged over Facebook 'hit list' - United Press International
Inspector Scott Thompson told a Monday news conference the investigation began Friday when six fellow students of the accused at Templeton High School came forward complaining of the list posted on the Facebook social networking site, the Vancouver Sun...
Mother Sees Her Son After 27 Years, Thanks to Facebook - ABC News
By EFTEHIA KATSAREAS Had it not been for Facebook, who knows when, or even if, a British woman would have reunited with the son she hadn't seen in the 27 years since he was allegedly kidnapped by her estranged husband. Gavin Paros was taken from his...
Nokia N97 Gets Launch Date, Decent Facebook App - PC World
In preparation for the launch of the N97, an official Facebook app is out now, which is also compatible with the company's 5800 touchscreen phone. By now, Nokia touchscreen devices users had to use the less-capable Facebook mobile web interface to sort...
Facebook Gets a Break in New Study on Grades - Wall Street Journal
By WSJ Staff I wrote in April about a study linking higher levels of Facebook usage to lower grades among Ohio State University students. The case against the popular social-networking site was far from proven, however, because of flaws in the study,...
Mob Games for the IPhone - PC World
With some 10 million Mafiosi warring on Facebook and comparable numbers on MySpace, it was only a matter of time before Zynga expanded its empire to the iPhone and iPod touch, spawning a host of imitators. (Zynga's game was itself an imitation of Mob...
Where Facebook meets fist - Philadelphia Inquirer
Mrs. Ojinnaka got a wee bit ticked off that Mr. Ojinnaka was corresponding/flirting with a Ms.-Not-Ojinnaka on Facebook. Sounds like those two crazy kids are going to be together forever. I know the two of you are Facebook fiends....
How to Come Out on Facebook - TIME
But many gay people love that function of Facebook because it makes one primary but traditionally fraught ritual of gay and lesbian life so much easier. That would be coming out. Facebook is like drive-thru coming out: quick, cheap and open all night....
How to avoid being pompous on Facebook - MiamiHerald.com
But don't make it so obvious when you're a business owner trying to create a Facebook fan page. Pop quiz: what's wrong with this e-mail? SUBJECT: Niala Boodhoo suggested you become a fan of Niala Boodhoo. BODY: Niala became a fan of Niala Boodhoo on...

Facebook

The Facebook on February 12, 2004

Facebook is a free-access social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. The website's name refers to the paper facebooks depicting members of a campus community that some US colleges and preparatory schools give to incoming students, faculty, and staff as a way to get to know other people on campus.

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with fellow computer science major students and his roommates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University. Website membership was initially limited to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It later expanded further to include any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. The website currently has more than 175 million active users worldwide. Facebook recently surpassed Myspace in amount of visitors, making Facebook the most popular social network, followed by MySpace and Twitter.

Facebook has met with some controversy over the past few years. It has been blocked intermittently in several countries including Syria and Iran. It has also been banned at many places of work to discourage employees from wasting time using the service. Privacy has also been an issue, and it has been compromised several times. It is also facing several lawsuits from a number of Zuckerberg's former classmates, who claim that Facebook had stolen their source code and other intellectual property.

According to the Harvard Crimson, Facemash "used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the “hotter” person." The site was quickly forwarded to several campus group list-servers but was shut down a few days later by the Harvard administration. Zuckerberg was charged by the administration with breach of security, violating copyrights and violating individual privacy and faced expulsion, but ultimately the charges were dropped. The following semester, Zuckerman founded "The Facebook", originally located at thefacebook.com, on February 4, 2004. “Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg told The Harvard Crimson. “I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.” Membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College, and within the first month, more than half the undergraduate population at Harvard was registered on the service. Eduardo Saverin (business aspects), Dustin Moskovitz (programmer), Andrew McCollum (graphic artist), and Chris Hughes soon joined Zuckerberg to help promote the website. In March 2004, Facebook expanded to Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. This expansion continued when it opened to all Ivy League and Boston area schools, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States. In June 2004, Facebook moved its base of operations to Palo Alto, California.The company dropped The from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com in 2005 for $200,000. Facebook launched a high school version in September 2005, which Zuckerberg called the next logical step. At that time, high school networks required an invitation to join. Facebook later expanded membership eligibility to employees of several companies, including Apple Inc. and Microsoft. Facebook was then opened on September 26, 2006 to everyone of ages 13 and older with a valid e-mail address. In October 2008, Facebook announced that it was to set up its international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

Facebook received its first investment of US$500,000 in June 2004 from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. This was followed a year later by $12.7 million in venture capital from Accel Partners, and then $27.5 million more from Greylock Partners. A leaked cash flow statement showed that during the 2005 fiscal year, Facebook had a net loss of $3.63 million.

With the sale of social networking website MySpace to News Corp on July 19, 2005, rumors surfaced about the possible sale of Facebook to a larger media company. Zuckerberg had already said he did not want to sell the company, and denied rumors to the contrary. On March 28, 2006, BusinessWeek reported that a potential acquisition of Facebook was under negotiation. Facebook reportedly declined an offer of $750 million from an unknown bidder, and it was rumored the asking price rose as high as $2 billion.

In September 2006, serious talks between Facebook and Yahoo! took place concerning acquisition of Facebook, with prices reaching as high as $1 billion. Thiel, by then a board member of Facebook, indicated that Facebook's internal valuation was around $8 billion based on their projected revenues of $1 billion by 2015, comparable to Viacom's MTV brand, a company with a shared target demographic audience.

In September 2007, Microsoft approached Facebook, proposing an investment in return for a 5% stake in the company, offering an estimated $300–500 million. That month, other companies, including Google, expressed interest in buying a portion of Facebook.

On October 24, 2007 Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion. However, Microsoft bought preferred stock that carried special rights, such as "liquidation preferences" that meant Microsoft would get paid before common stockholders if the company is sold. Microsoft's purchase also included rights to place international ads on Facebook.

In November 2007, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing invested $60 million in Facebook.

In August 2008, BusinessWeek reported that private sales by employees, as well as purchases by venture capital firms, had and were being done at share prices that put the company's total valuation at between $3.75 billion and $5 billion.

Facebook users may choose to join one or more networks, organized by city, workplace, school, and region. These networks help users connect with members of the same network. Users can also connect with friends, giving them access to their friends' profiles.

The website is free to users, but generates revenue from advertising. This includes banner ads. Users can create profiles including photos and lists of personal interests, exchange private or public messages, and join groups of friends. By default, the viewing of detailed profile data is restricted to users from the same network and "reasonable community limitations".

Microsoft is Facebook's exclusive partner for serving banner advertising, and as such Facebook only serves advertisements that exist in Microsoft's advertisement inventory. According to comScore, an internet marketing research company, Facebook collects as much data from its visitors as Google and Microsoft, but considerably less than Yahoo!.

The media often compares Facebook to MySpace, but one significant difference between the two websites is the level of customization. MySpace allows users to decorate their profiles using HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), while Facebook only allows plain text.

Facebook has a number of features with which users may interact. They include the Wall, a space on every user's profile page that allows friends to post messages for the user to see, Pokes, which allows users to send a virtual "poke" to each other (a notification that tells a user that they have been poked), Photos, where users can upload albums and photos, and Status, which allows users to inform their friends of their whereabouts and actions. A user's Wall is visible to anyone who is able to see that user's profile, which depends on their privacy settings. In July 2007, Facebook began allowing users to post attachments to the Wall, whereas the Wall was previously limited to textual content only.

Over time, Facebook has added several new features to its website. On September 6, 2006, a News Feed was announced, which appears on every user's homepage and highlights information including profile changes, upcoming events, and birthdays related to the user's friends. Initially, the News Feed caused dissatisfaction among Facebook users; some complained it was too cluttered and full of undesired information, while others were concerned it made it too easy for other people to track down individual activities (such as changes in relationship status, events, and conversations with other users). In response to this dissatisfaction, Zuckerberg issued an apology for the site's failure to include appropriate customizable privacy features. Since then, users have been able to control what types of information are shared automatically with friends. Users are now able to prevent friends from seeing updates about different types of activities, including profile changes, Wall posts, and newly added friends.

One of the most popular applications on Facebook is the Photos application, where users can upload albums and photos. Facebook allows users to upload an unlimited number of photos, compared with other image hosting services such as Photobucket and Flickr, which apply limits to the number of photos that a user is allowed to upload. In the past, all users were limited to 60 photos per album. However, some users report that they are able to create albums with a new limit of 200 photos. It remains unclear why some members have a 200-photo limit while others do not. Privacy settings can be set for individual albums, limiting the groups of users that can see an album. For example, the privacy of an album can be set so that only the user's friends can see the album, while the privacy of another album can be set so that all Facebook users can see it. Another feature of the Photos applications is the ability to "tag", or label users in a photo. For instance, if a photo contains a user's friend, then the user can tag the friend in the photo. This sends a notification to the friend that they have been tagged, and provides them a link to see the photo.

Facebook Notes was introduced on August 22, 2006, a blogging feature that allowed tags and embeddable images. Users were later able to import blogs from Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger, and other blogging services. During the week of April 7, 2008, Facebook released a Comet-based instant messaging application called "Chat" to several networks, which allows users to communicate with friends and is similar in functionality to desktop-based instant messengers.

Facebook launched Gifts on February 8, 2007, which allows users to send virtual gifts to their friends that appear on the recipient's profile. Gifts cost $1.00 each to purchase, and a personalized message can be attached to each gift. On May 14, 2007, Facebook launched Marketplace, which lets users post free classified ads. Marketplace has been compared to Craigslist by CNET, which points out that the major difference between the two is that listings posted by a user on Marketplace are only seen by users that are in the same network as that user, whereas listings posted on Craigslist can be seen by anyone.

On July 20, 2008, Facebook introduced "Facebook Beta", a significant redesign of its user interface on selected networks. The Mini-Feed and Wall were consolidated, profiles were separated into tabbed sections, and an effort was made to create a "cleaner" look. After initially giving users a choice to switch, Facebook began migrating all users to the new version beginning September, 2008.

On December 11, 2008, it was announced that Facebook is testing out a new simpler signup process.

Facebook launched the Facebook Platform on May 24, 2007, providing a framework for software developers to create applications that interact with core Facebook features. A markup language called Facebook Markup Language was introduced simultaneously; it is used to customize the "look and feel" of applications that developers create. Using the Platform, Facebook launched several new applications, including Gifts, allowing users to send virtual gifts to each other, Marketplace, allowing users to post free classified ads, Events, giving users a method of informing their friends about upcoming events, and Video, letting users share homemade videos with one another.

Applications that have been created on the Platform include chess and Scrabble, which both allow users to play games with their friends. These games are asynchronous, meaning that a user's moves are saved on the website, allowing the next move to be made at any time rather than immediately after the previous move.

By November 3, 2007, seven thousand applications had been developed on the Facebook Platform, with another hundred created everyday. By the second annual f8 developers conference on July 23, 2008, the number of applications had grown to 33,000, and the number of registered developers had exceeded 400,000.

Within a few months of launching the Facebook Platform, issues arose regarding "application spam", which involves Facebook applications "spamming" users to request it be installed. Application spam has been considered one of the possible causes to the drop in visitors to Facebook starting from the beginning of 2008, when its growth had fallen from December 2007 to January 2008, its first drop since its launch in 2004.

According to comScore, Facebook is the leading social networking site based on monthly unique visitors, having overtaken main competitor MySpace in April 2008. ComScore reports that Facebook attracted 132.1 million unique visitors in June 2008, compared to MySpace, which attracted 117.6 million.

According to Alexa, the website's ranking among all websites increased from 60th to 7th in terms of worldwide traffic, from September 2006 to September 2007, and is currently 5th. Quantcast ranks the website 15th in US in terms of traffic, and Compete.com ranks it 14th in US. The website is the most popular for uploading photos, with 14 million uploaded daily.

Facebook is the most popular social networking site in several English-speaking countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom. However, in the United States, it has 36 million users compared to MySpace's 73 million. The website has won awards such as placement into the "Top 100 Classic Websites" by PC Magazine in 2007, and winning the "People's Voice Award" from the Webby Awards in 2008. In a 2006 study conducted by Student Monitor, a New Jersey-based company specializing in research concerning the college student market, Facebook was named the second most popular thing among undergraduates, tied with beer and only ranked lower than the iPod.

In December 2008, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory ruled that Facebook is a valid protocol to serve court notices to defendants. It is believed to be the world's first legal judgment that defines a summons posted on Facebook to be legally binding.

Facebook has met with some controversy over the past few years. In October 2005, the University of New Mexico blocked access to Facebook from its campus computers and networks. It cited a violation of the university's Acceptable Use Policy for abusing computer resources as the reason, stating the website forces use of the university's credentials for activity not related to the university. The school later unblocked Facebook after the website rectified the situation by displaying a notice on the login page stating the credentials used on the website are separate from the ones used for their school accounts. The Ontario government also blocked access to Facebook for its employees in May 2007, stating the website was "not directly related to the workplace".

On January 1, 2008, a memorial group on Facebook posted the identity of murdered Toronto teenager Stefanie Rengel, whose family had not yet given the Toronto Police Service their consent to release her name to the media, as well as the identities of her accused killers — despite the fact that under Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, it is illegal to publish the name of an underage criminal. While police and Facebook staff attempted to comply with the privacy regulations by deleting posts mentioning her name, they noted it was difficult to effectively police individual users who repeatedly republished the deleted information.

Due to the open nature of Facebook, several countries have banned access to it including Syria and Iran. The Syrian government cited the ban was on the premise that the website promoted attacks on authorities. The government also feared Israeli infiltration of Syrian social networks on Facebook. Facebook was also used by Syrian citizens to criticize the government, and public criticism of the Syrian government is punishable by imprisonment. In Iran, the website was banned because of fears that opposition movements were being organized on the website.

On February 5, 2008, Fouad Mourtada, a citizen of Morocco, was arrested for the alleged creation of a faked Facebook profile of Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco.

Several concerns have emerged regarding the use of Facebook as a means of surveillance and data mining. Two MIT students were able to download over 70,000 Facebook profiles from four schools (MIT, New York University, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard University) using an automated shell script, as part of a research project on Facebook privacy published on December 14, 2005. The possibility of data mining remains open, as evidenced in May 2008, when the BBC technology program "Click" demonstrated that personal details of Facebook users and their friends could be stolen by submitting malicious applications.

Concerns have also been raised regarding the difficulty of deleting user accounts. Previously, Facebook only allowed users to "deactivate" their accounts so that their profile was no longer visible. However, any information the user had entered into the website and on their profile remained on the website's servers. This outraged many users who wished to remove their accounts permanently, citing reasons such as the inability to erase "embarrassing or overly-personal online profiles from their student days as they entered the job market, for fear employers would locate the profiles". Facebook changed its account deletion policies on February 29, 2008, allowing users to contact the website to request that their accounts be permanently deleted.

In Italy the discovering of pro-mafia groups caused an alert in the country and brought the government, after a short debate, to rapidly issue a law which will force ISPs to deny access to entire sites in case of refused removal of illegal contents; the removal can be requested by a prosecutor in any case there is a suspect that criminal speech (apology or incitement to crime) is published on a website. The amendment was passed by the Senate on February 5, 2008, and now needs to be passed unchanged by the "Camera", the other Chamber to become immediately effective.

Facebook and other social network websites, Google included, criticized the amendment emphasizing the eventual effects on the freedom of speech of those users who don't violate any law.

In 2004 ConnectU, a company founded by classmates of Zuckerberg, filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming that Zuckerberg had broken an oral contract for them to build the Facebook site, copied their idea, and used source code that belonged to them. The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement in February 2008. In 2008 they attempted unsuccessfully to rescind the settlement, claiming that Facebook had understated its valuation in connection with its settlement negotiations. Despite the confidentiality agreement, a law firm that respresented ConnectU inadvertantly disclosed the $65 million settlement amount.

On July 18, 2008, Facebook sued StudiVZ in a California federal court, alleging that StudiVZ copied its look, feel, features and services. StudiVZ denied the claims, and asked for declaratory judgment at the District Court in Stuttgart, Germany.

On July 24, 2008 the High Court in London ordered Grant Raphael to pay GBP £22,000 (about USD $31,500 at the February 2009 exchange rate) for breach of privacy and libel. Raphael had posted a fake Facebook page purporting to be that of a former schoolfriend and business colleague, Mathew Firsht, with whom Raphael had fallen out in 2000. The fake page claimed that Firscht was homosexual and untrustworthy. The case is believed to be the first successful invasion of privacy and defamation verdict against someone over an entry on a social networking site.

Facebook won a lawsuit against Canadian Adam Guerbuez, of Montreal, worth $873 million. Guerbuez had spammed the website with various advertisements including penis enhancements and marijuana. Guerbuez founded Atlantis Blue Capital.

On 09Feb2009 it was reported that Juventus football (soccer) player Alessandro Del Piero was suing Facebook over a fake profile bearing his name that links to Nazi propaganda sites. The Italian footballer was said to be aggrieved that the bogus account, which carries his picture, implies neo-Nazi sympathies. Del Piero stated he's never had a Facebook profile.

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Criticism of Facebook

Facebook's growth as an Internet social networking site has met criticism, on a range of issues including the privacy of users and unmoderated content affecting advertising.

In November 2007, Facebook launched Beacon, a system where third-party websites can include a script by Facebook on their sites, and use it to send information about the actions of Facebook users on their site to Facebook, prompting serious privacy concerns. Information such as purchases made and games played are published in the user's news feed. An informative notice about this action appears on the third party site and gives the user the opportunity to cancel it, and the user can also cancel it on Facebook. Originally if no action was taken, the information was automatically published. On November 29 this was changed to require confirmation from the user before publishing each story gathered by Beacon. However, there is still no option to prevent Facebook from storing and using information sent by Beacon.

On Dec. 1, 2007 Facebook's credibility in regard to the Beacon program was further tested when it was reported that the New York Times "essentially accuses" Mark Zuckerberg of lying to the paper and leaving Coca-Cola, which is reversing course on the program, a similar impression. A security engineer at CA, Inc. also claimed that Facebook is collecting data from affiliate sites even when the consumer opts out and even when not logged into the Facebook site, a contradiction of Facebook public claims and email correspondence.

In May 2008, news surfaced through blog circles that hitting the down arrow key or entering a period in the search prompt would bring up a list of five "important people". This led to several theories on why Facebook selected these particular friends, though no official explanation materialised. The feature was removed later in the month, amidst ongoing speculation on the significance of the five names on the list.

Students who post illegal or otherwise inappropriate material have faced disciplinary action from their universities, including expulsion.

On September 5, 2006, Facebook introduced two new features called "News Feed" and "Mini-Feed". The first of the new features, News Feed, appears on every Facebook member's home page, displaying recent Facebook activities of a member's friends. The second feature, Mini-Feed, keeps a log of similar events on each member's profile page. Members can manually delete items from their Mini-Feeds if they wish to do so, and through privacy settings can control what is actually published in their respective Mini-Feeds.

Some Facebook members still feel that the ability to opt-out of the entire News Feed and Mini-Feed system is necessary, as evidenced by a statement from the Students Against Facebook News Feed group, which peaked at over 740,000 members. However, according to recent news articles, members have widely regarded the additional privacy options as an acceptable compromise.

In September, 2008, the news feed and "Wall" were retroactively combined, reigniting privacy concerns over the "news feed" feature by publicly posting previously hidden actions.

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, per Director Phillipa Lawson, filed a 35-page complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner against Facebook on May 31, 2008, based on 22 breaches of the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (Pipeda). Facebook's Chris Kelly contradicted the claims, saying that: "We've reviewed the complaint and found it has serious factual errors — most notably its neglect of the fact that almost all Facebook data is willingly shared by users." University of Ottawa law students, Lisa Feinberg, Harley Finkelstein and Jordan Plener, initiated the "minefield of privacy invasion" suit which was investigated by Canadian Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, who will submit the report and recommendations within a year. She will utilize negotiation to resolve privacy disputes, but can ask for court injunctions.

There have been some concerns expressed regarding the use of Facebook as a means of surveillance and data mining. Theories have been written about the possible misuse of Facebook and privacy proponents have criticised the site's current privacy agreement. According to the policy, "We may use information about you that we collect from other sources, including but not limited to newspapers and Internet sources such as blogs, instant messaging services and other users of Facebook, to supplement your profile." However, some features—such as AIM away-message harvesting and campus newspaper monitoring—have been dropped, even though the clause still remains in the policy as of November 26, 2008. The possibility of data mining by private individuals unaffiliated with Facebook remains open, as evidenced by the fact that two MIT students were able to download, using an automated script, over 70,000 Facebook profiles from four schools (MIT, NYU, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard) as part of a research project on Facebook privacy published on December 14, 2005.

A second clause that warranted criticism from some users reserved the right to sell users' data to private companies, stating "We may share your information with third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a relationship." This concern was addressed by spokesman Chris Hughes who said "Simply put, we have never provided our users' information to third party companies, nor do we intend to." Facebook eventually removed this clause from their privacy policy when it was updated on November 26, 2008.

In the UK, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has encouraged employers to allow their staff to access Facebook and other social networking sites from work, provided they proceed with caution.

In September 2007, Facebook drew a fresh round of criticism after it began allowing non-members to search for users, with the intent of opening limited "public profiles" up to search engines such as Google in the following months.

In November 2007, Facebook launched a new part of its Ads system named Beacon that published Facebook users' activities on partner websites such as eBay, Fandango, Travelocity, and Blockbuster to their friends. Moveon.org created an online petition due to privacy concerns, and Facebook modified the service to some extent. However, privacy concerns have continued in the wake of a report by a security researcher at Computer Associates that noted that data on users' activities is often still sent to Facebook, even if a user has opted-out on the partner site and logged out of Facebook.

Concerns were also raised on the BBC's Watchdog programme in October 2007 when Facebook was shown to be an easy way in which to collect an individual's personal information in order to facilitate identity theft.

In addition, a New York Times article in February 2008 pointed out that Facebook does not actually provide a mechanism for users to close their accounts, and thus raises the concern that private user data will remain indefinitely on Facebook's servers. This college forum took it further and promoted a video which took an in depth look at the amount of data Facebook stores on its users, and who is able to view it.

Facebook has historically allowed users to deactivate their accounts but not actually remove account content from its servers. A Facebook representative explained to a student from the University of British Columbia that users had to clear their own accounts by manually deleting all of the content including wall posts, friends, and groups. The considerable effort dissuaded people from doing so. A New York Times article noted the issue, and also raised a concern that emails and other private user data remain indefinitely on Facebook's servers. Facebook subsequently began permanently deleting accounts on special request.

A notable ancillary effect of social networking websites, particularly Facebook, is the ability for participants to mourn publicly for a deceased individual. On Facebook, students often leave messages of sadness, grief, or hope on the individual's page, transforming it into a sort of public book of condolences. This particular phenomenon has been documented at a number of schools. Previously, Facebook had stated that its official policy on the matter was to remove the profile of the deceased one month after he or she has died, preventing the profile from being used for communal mourning, citing privacy concerns. Due to user response, Facebook amended its policy. Its new policy is to place deceased members' profiles in a "memorialization state".

Additional usage of Facebook as a tool of remembrance is expressed in group memberships on the site. Now that groups are community-wide and available among all networks, many users create Facebook groups not only to remember a deceased friend or individual but also as a source of support in response to an occurrence such as the September 11, 2001 attacks or the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007.

Such memorial groups have also raised legal issues. Notably, on January 1, 2008, one such memorial group posted the identities of murdered Toronto teenager Stefanie Rengel, whose family had not yet given the Toronto Police Service their consent to release her name to the media, and her accused killers, in defiance of Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act which prohibits publishing the names of under-age criminals. While police and Facebook staff attempted to comply with the privacy regulations by deleting such posts, they noted that it was difficult to effectively police the individual users who repeatedly republished the deleted information.

Facebook is often compared to MySpace but one significant difference between the two sites is the level of customization. MySpace allows users to decorate their profiles using HTML and CSS while Facebook allows only plain text. However, a number of users have tweaked their profiles by using "hacks." On February 24, 2006, a pair of users exploited a cross-site scripting (XSS) hole on the profile page and created a fast-spreading worm, loading a custom CSS file on infected profiles that made them look like MySpace profiles. On April 19, 2006, a user was able to embed an iframe into his profile and load a custom off-site page featuring a streaming video and a flash game from Drawball. He has since been banned from Facebook. On March 26, 2006, a user was able to embed JavaScript in the "Hometown" field of his profile which imported his custom CSS. In each case, Facebook quickly patched the holes, typically within hours of their discovery. In July 2007, Adrienne Felt, an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia, discovered a cross-site scripting (XSS) hole in the Facebook Platform that could inject JavaScript into profiles, which was used to import custom CSS and demonstrate how the platform could be used to violate privacy rules or create a worm. This hole took Facebook two and a half weeks to fix.

In September 2008, Facebook permanently moved its users to what they termed the "New Facebook". This version contained several different features and a complete layout redesign. Users had had the option to use the new Facebook in place of the original design since July, but had also had the option to return to the old design.

Facebook's decision to migrate their users was met with some controversy by their community. Several groups were started opposing the decision, some with over a million users.

Facebook has also received criticism from both users and those outside the Facebook community. British eating disorder charity B-EAT called on all social networking sites to curb "pro-ana" (anorexia) and "pro-mia" (bulimia) pages and groups, naming MySpace and Facebook specifically.

On 3 August 2007, British companies including First Direct, Vodafone, Virgin Media, The Automobile Association, Halifax and the Prudential removed their advertisements from Facebook. A Virgin Media spokeswoman said "We want to advertise on social networks but we have to protect our brand". The companies found that their services were being advertised on pages of the British National Party, a far-right political party in the UK. New Media Age magazine was first to alert the companies that their ads were coming up on BNP's Facebook page. The AA also pulled its advertising from YouTube when a BBC documentary showed that videos of school children fighting were available on that site.

Facebook's search function has been accused of preventing users from searching for certain terms. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has written about Facebook's possible censorship of "Ron Paul" as well as the Beacon protest page (as well as the search term "privacy" altogether) set up on Facebook by MoveOn.org. Facebook claimed that the problem was a bug.

Facebook has been criticized for removing photos uploaded by mothers of themselves breastfeeding their babies, and also canceling their Facebook accounts. While claiming that these photos violate their decency code by showing an exposed breast, even when the baby covered the nipple, Facebook took several days to respond to calls to deactivate a paid advertisement for a dating service that used a photo of a topless model.

In November 2007, Facebook was blocked by the Syrian government on the premise that it promoted attacks on the authorities. No comment was made from the government that blocked it, which has started a crackdown on online political activism in that period. Burma, Bhutan, and Iran are among nations to have banned the website.

Ontario government employees, Federal public servants, MPPs, and cabinet ministers were blocked from access to Facebook on government computers in May 2007. When the employees tried to access Facebook, a warning message "The Internet website that you have requested has been deemed unacceptable for use for government business purposes". This warning also appears when employees try to access YouTube, MySpace, gambling or pornographic websites. However, innovative employees have found ways around such protocols, and many claim to use the site for political or work-related purposes.

The New South Wales Department of Education and Training has also blocked all users (students and staff) from accessing Facebook, as have many other government departments in Australia. The City of New York Department of Health and Hospitals blocks Facebook from use at work.

The University of New Mexico (UNM) in October 2005 blocked access to Facebook from UNM campus computers and networks, citing unsolicited e-mails and a similar site called UNM Facebook. After a UNM user signed into Facebook from off campus, a message from Facebook said, "We are working with the UNM administration to lift the block and have explained that it was instituted based on erroneous information, but they have not yet committed to restore your access." UNM, in a message to students who tried to access the site from the UNM network, wrote, "This site is temporarily unavailable while UNM and the site owners work out procedural issues. The site is in violation of UNM's Acceptable Computer Use Policy for abusing computing resources (e.g., spamming, trademark infringement, etc). The site forces use of UNM credentials (e.g., NetID or email address) for non-UNM business." However, after Facebook created an encrypted login and displayed a precautionary message not to use university passwords for access, UNM unblocked access the following spring semester.

The Columbus Dispatch reported on June 22, 2006, that Kent State University's athletic director had planned to ban the use of Facebook by athletes and gave them until August 1 to delete their accounts. On July 5, 2006, the Daily Kent Stater reported that the director reversed the decision after reviewing the privacy settings of Facebook.

Since it violates many school boards' terms of use for the internet along with local and state laws, many school boards in North America, Europe and Oceania that run elementary through high schools have blocked access to Facebook.

Several other web sites related with social networking have criticized the lack of information that users get when they share their data.

Advanced users can limit the amount of information anyone can access in their profile, but Facebook promotes the share of personal information for Marketing purposes, leading to the promotion of the service using personal data from users which are not fully aware of this. Furthermore, Facebook exposes personal data, without supporting open standards for data interchange.

Closed social networking in the other hand promotes the act of retrieving data from people we interact with, without exposing our personal information.

Following the February 27, 2006 integration of the high school and college levels, some college users began creating groups critical of the decision. Users from opposite branches could fully interact only if they were friends and some separation did remain. The site also released the Limited Profile privacy settings and advised students on how to hide pictures and other features from others. However, some college users felt that the site's former exclusivity had been key to their experience. Some expressed concerns about the ability of unknown persons to create accounts on the high school version (since university addresses are not required) and use them to access the college version; by default, strangers can message and view users' friends through a simple global search. Some made predictions that the site would soon face issues with spammers, stalkers, or worse, and worried this would result in controversies similar to the bad publicity seen by MySpace.

Adding to the controversy around opening Facebook to younger students, four high school students at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Ontario were arrested in a Facebook-related protest on March 23, 2007. Earlier that week, five different students had been suspended for posting criticisms about a vice-principal of their school. About a dozen friends of the suspendees had decided to protest in front of the school, but that handful soon grew to over 100 students protesting for free speech. Local law enforcement authorities were called, and a scuffle ensued, resulting in the arrest of 4 students.

On January 23, 2006, The Chronicle of Higher Education continued an ongoing national debate on social networks with an opinion piece written by Michael Bugeja, director of the Journalism School at Iowa State University, entitled "Facing the Facebook". Bugeja, author of the Oxford University Press text Interpersonal Divide (2005), quoted representatives of the American Association of University Professors and colleagues in higher education to document the distraction of students using Facebook and other social networks during class and at other venues in the wireless campus. Bugeja followed up on January 26, 2007 in The Chronicle with an article titled "Distractions in the Wireless Classroom," quoting several educators across the country who were banning laptops in the classroom. Similarly, organisations such as the National Association for Campus Activities, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and others have hosted seminars and presentations to discuss ramifications of students' use of Facebook and other social networking systems.

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative has also released a brief pamphlet entitled "7 Things You Should Know About Facebook" aimed at higher education professionals that "describes what is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning".

Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss, and Tyler Winklevoss, owners of the social networking website HarvardConnection, changed its name to ConnectU in September 2004 and filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that Zuckerberg had broken an oral contract for them to build the Facebook site, copied their idea, and illegally used source code intended for the website they asked him to build for them. The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement in February, 2008.

ConnectU filed another lawsuit on March 11, 2008, attempting to rescind the settlement on the theory that in settlement negotiations Facebook had overstated the value of stock it was granting the ConnectU founders as part of the settlement. ConnectU argued that Facebook represented itself as being worth $15 billion, the post-money valuation arising from Microsoft's purchase in 2007 of a 1.6% stake in Facebook for US $246 million. Facebook announced that valuation in a press release. However, Facebook subsequently performed an internal valuation that estimated a company value of $3.75 billion. Further, the website's 0.02%-0.04% ad click-through rate has led some analysts to believe that the site does not have a viable long-term business model. ConnectU fired the law firm that had represented it in settlement discussions, and the firm in turn filed a lien against the settlement proceeds. In June, 2008, an appeals court upheld the earlier settlement, rejecting ConnectU's new challenge. In February 2009, it was reported that a settlement was reached between Facebook and the ConnectU litigants. Facebook will pay USD $65 million to the plaintiffs, most of it in Facebook stock, and $20M in cash. ConnectU's law firm, Quinn, has asked for $13 million in legal fees.

Four years later, when Greenspan published a book entitled Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era describing his side of the story of Facebook's birth as well as events leading up to it (including aggressive actions on behalf of the Harvard University administration), he was prohibited from advertising the book using Google AdWords because of the inclusion of the word "Facebook" in the book's subtitle, and Facebook, Inc.'s registered trademark on the term "Facebook." The trademark had come into existence two years before in 2006, partially as a defensive measure during a battle over the "facebook.com" domain name in the ConnectU lawsuit. Consequently, Greenspan's company filed a Petition to Cancel the "Facebook" trademark, which included claims of prior use, genericness, and fraud by Facebook, Inc. against the USPTO. Greenspan is representing himself and the proceedings are still pending, but as of late October 2008, the USPTO has refused to grant Facebook's request to dismiss the fraud claims. In February 2009, it was reported that a settlement was reached between Facebook and the ConnectU litigants. Facebook will pay USD $65 million to the plaintiffs, most of it in Facebook stock, and the rest in cash.

While Facebook originally made changes to its terms of use or, terms of service, on February 4, 2009, the changes went unnoticed until Chris Walters, a blogger for the consumer-oriented blog, The Consumerist, noticed the change on February 15, 2009. Walters complained the change gave Facebook the right to "Do anything they want with your content. Forever." The section under the most controversy is the "User Content Posted on the Site" clause. Before the changes, the clause read, "You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content." The "license granted" refers to the license that Facebook has to your "name, likeness, and image" to use in promotions and external advertising. The new terms of use deleted the phrase that states the license would "automatically expire" if a user chose to remove content. By omitting this line, Facebook license extends to adopt users content perpetually and irrevocably years after the content has been deleted.

Many users of Facebook voiced opinions against the changes to the Facebook Terms of Use, leading to an Internet-wide debate over the ownership of content. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) prepared a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Many individuals were frustrated with the removal of the controversial clause. Facebook users, numbering more than 38,000, joined a user group against the changes, and a number of blogs and news sites have been written about this issue.

After the change was brought to light in Walter's blog entry, in his blog on February 16, 2009, Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issues concerning the recently made changes to Facebook’s terms of use. Zuckerberg wrote “Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with.” In addition to this statement Zuckerman explained the paradox created when people want to share their information (phone number, pictures, email address, etc) with the public, but at the same time desire to remain in complete control of who has access to this info.

In order to calm criticism, Facebook returned to its original terms of use. However, on February 17, 2009, Zuckerberg wrote in his blog, that although Facebook reverted back to its original terms of use, it is in the process of developing new terms in order to address the paradox. Zuckerberg stated that these new terms will allow Facebook users to “share and control their information, and it will be written clearly in language everyone can understand.” Zuckerberg invited users to join a group entitled “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” to give their input and help shape the new terms.

On February 26th of 2009, Zuckerberg posted a blog, updating users on the progress of the new Terms of Use. He wrote, “We decided we needed to do things differently and so we're going to develop new policies that will govern our system from the ground up in an open and transparent way.” Zuckerberg introduces the two new additions to Facebook: the Facebook Principles and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Both additions allow users to vote on changes to the terms of use before they are officially released. Because “Facebook is still in the business of introducing new and therefore potentially disruptive technologies,” Zuckerberg explains, users need to adjust and familiarize themselves with the products before they can adequately show their support.

This new voting system is being applauded as Facebook’s step to a more democratized social network system.

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Social network service

A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.

Social networking has created new ways to communicate and share information. Social networking websites are being used regularly by millions of people, and it now seems that social networking will be an enduring part of everyday life. The main types of social networking services are those which contain directories of some categories (such as former classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and recommender systems linked to trust. Popular methods now combine many of these, with MySpace and Facebook being the most widely used in North America; Nexopia (mostly in Canada); Bebo, Facebook, Hi5, MySpace, Tagged, Xing; and Skyrock in parts of Europe; Orkut, Facebook and Hi5 in South America and Central America; and Friendster, Orkut, Xiaonei and Cyworld in Asia and the Pacific Islands.

There have been some attempts to standardize these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries of friends and interests (see the FOAF standard and the Open Source Initiative), but this has led to some concerns about privacy.

The notion that individual computers linked electronically could form the basis of computer mediated social interaction and networking was suggested early on . There were many early efforts to support social networks via computer-mediated communication, including Usenet, ARPANET, LISTSERV, bulletin board services (BBS), and EIES: Murray Turoff's server-based Electronic Information Exchange Service (Turoff and Hiltz, 1978, 1993). The Information Routing Group developed a schema about how the proto-Internet might support this.

Early social networking websites started in the form of generalized online communities such as Theglobe.com (1994), Geocities (1994) and Tripod (1995). These early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and share personal information and ideas around any topics via personal homepage publishing tools which was a precursor to the blogging phenomenon. Some communities took a different approach by simply having people link to each other via email addresses. These sites included Classmates.com (1995), focusing on ties with former school mates, and SixDegrees.com (1997), focusing on indirect ties. User profiles could be created, messages sent to users held on a “friends list” and other members could be sought out who had similar interests to yours in their profiles. Whilst these features had existed in some form before SixDegrees.com came about, this would be the first time these functions were available in one package. Despite these new developments (that would later catch on and become immensely popular), the website simply wasn’t profitable and eventually shut down. It was even described by the website’s owner as "simply ahead of its time." Two different models of social networking that came about in 1999 were trust-based, developed by Epinions.com, and friendship-based, such as those developed by Jonathan Bishop and used on some regional UK sites between 1999 and 2001. Innovations included not only showing who is "friends" with whom, but giving users more control over content and connectivity. Between 2002 and 2004, three social networking sites emerged as the most popular form of these sites in the world, causing such sites to become part of mainstream users globally. First there was Friendster (which Google tried to acquire in 2003), then, MySpace, and finally, Bebo. By 2005, MySpace, emergent as the biggest of them all, was reportedly getting more page views than Google. 2004 saw the emergence of Facebook, a competitor, also rapidly growing in size. In 2006, Facebook opened up to the non US college community, and together with allowing externally-developed add-on applications, and some applications enabled the graphing of a user's own social network - thus linking social networks and social networking, became the largest and fastest growing site in the world, not limited by particular geographical followings.

Social networking began to flourish as a component of business internet strategy at around March 2005 when Yahoo launched Yahoo! 360°. In July 2005 News Corporation bought MySpace, followed by ITV (UK) buying Friends Reunited in December 2005. Various social networking sites have sprung up catering to different languages and countries. It is estimated that combined there are now over 200 social networking sites using these existing and emerging social networking models, without counting the niche social networks (also referred to as vertical social networks) made possible by services such as Ning.

An increasing number of academic commentators are becoming interested in studying Facebook and other social networking tools. Social science researchers have begun to investigate what the impact of this might be on society. Typical articles have investigated issues such as Identity, Privacy, E-learning , Social capital and Teenage use.

A special issue of the Journal for Computer-Mediated Communications was dedicated to studies of social network sites. Included in this issue is an introduction to social network sites.

Social networks connect people at low cost; this can be beneficial for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to expand their contact base. These networks often act as a customer relationship management tool for companies selling products and services. Companies can also use social networks for advertising in the form of banners and text ads. Since businesses operate globally, social networks can make it easier to keep in touch with contacts around the world.

One example of social networking being used for business purposes is LinkedIn.com, which aims to interconnect professionals. LinkedIn has over 36 million users in over 200 countries.

Professional networking sites function as online meeting places for business and industry professionals. Other sites are bringing this model for niche business professional networking.

Virtual communities for business allow individuals to be accessible. People establish their real identity in a verifiable place. These individuals then interact with each other or within groups that share common business interests and goals. They can also post their own user generated content in the form of blogs, pictures, slide shows and videos. Like a social network, the consumer essentially becomes the publisher.

A professional network is used for the business to business marketplace. These networks improve the ability for people to advance professionally, by finding, connecting and networking with others. Business professionals can share experiences with others who have a need to learn from similar experiences.

The traditional way to interact is face-to-face. Interactive technology makes it possible for people to network with their peers from anywhere, at anytime in an online environment. Professional network services attract, aggregate and assemble large business-focused audiences by creating informative and interactive meeting places.

Many social networks provide an online environment for people to communicate and exchange personal information for dating purposes. Intentions can vary from looking for a one time date, short-term relationships, and long-term relationships.

Most of these social networks, just like online dating services, require users to give out certain pieces of information. This usually includes a user's age, gender, location, interests, and perhaps a picture. Releasing very personal information is usually discouraged for safety reasons. This allows other users to search or be searched by some sort of criteria, but at the same time people can maintain a degree of anonymity similar to most online dating services. Online dating sites are similar to social networks in the sense that users create profiles to meet and communicate with others, but their activities on such sites are for the sole purpose of finding a person of interest to date. Social networks do not necessarily have to be for dating; many users simply use it for keeping in touch with friends.

However, an important difference between social networks and online dating services is the fact that online dating sites usually require a fee, where social networks are free. This difference is one of the reasons the online dating industry is seeing a massive decrease in revenue due to many users opting to use social networking services instead. Many popular online dating services such as Match.com, Yahoo Personals, and eHarmony.com are seeing a decrease in users, where social networks like MySpace and Facebook are experiencing an increase in users.

The number of internet users in the U.S. that visit online dating sites has fallen from a peak of 21% in 2003 to 10% in 2006. Whether its the cost of the services, the variety of users with different intentions, or any other reason, it is undeniable that social networking sites are quickly becoming the new way to find dates online.

Social networks are beginning to be adopted by healthcare professionals as a means to manage institutional knowledge, disseminate peer to peer knowledge and to highlight individual physicians and institutions. The advantage of using a dedicated medical social networking site is that all the members are screened against the state licensing board list of practitioners.

The role of social networks is especially of interest to pharmaceutical companies who spend approximately "32 percent of their marketing dollars" attempting to influence the opinion leaders of social networks.

A new trend is emerging with social networks created to help its members with various physical and mental ailments. For people suffering from life altering diseases, PatientsLikeMe offers its members the chance to connect with others dealing with similar issues and research patient data related to their condition. For alcoholics and addicts, SoberCircle gives people in recovery the ability to communicate with one another and strengthen their recovery through the encouragement of others who can relate to their situation. Daily strength is also a website that offers support groups for a wide array of topics and conditions, including the support topics offered by PatientsLikeMe and SoberCircle.

Several websites are beginning to tap into the power of the social networking model for social good. Such models may be highly successful for connecting otherwise fragmented industries and small organizations without the resources to reach a broader audience with interested and passionate users. Users benefit by interacting with a like minded community and finding a channel for their energy and giving. Examples include SixDegrees.org, TakingITGlobal, G21.com, BabelUp, Care2, Change.org, Gather.org, Idealist.org, OneWorldWiki, TakePart.com and Network for Good. The charity badge is often used within the above context.

On the contrary, not all networking applications used in the professional environment are beneficial or successful. Some prospects experience trouble while trying to build their networks, thus they may produce ineffective work. Employees are now more likely than before to carry on inappropriate conversations at work. Communicating with such technologies creates a relaxed feeling in a professional environment. Some messages that should be relayed in person are being sent through the computer; the nature of the message and the audience should dictate the medium used to transmit the message. For example, the ability to network with 100 people will not improve communication skills when in contact with them.

In general, social networking services allow users to create a profile for themselves, and can be broken down into two broad categories: internal social networking (ISN) and external social networking (ESN) sites, such as Orkut,MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. Both types can increase the feeling of community among people. An ISN is a closed/private community that consists of a group of people within a company, association, society, education provider and organization or even an "invite only" group created by a user in an ESN. An ESN is open/public and available to all web users to communicate and are designed to attract advertisers. ESN's can be smaller specialised communities (i.e. linked by a single common interest eg TheSocialGolfer, ACountryLife.Com, Great Cooks Community) or they can be large generic social networking sites (eg MySpace, Facebook etc).

However, whether specialised or generic there is commonality across the general approach of social networking sites. Users can upload a picture of themselves, create their 'profile' and can often be "friends" with other users. In most social networking services, both users must confirm that they are friends before they are linked. For example, if Alice lists Bob as a friend, then Bob would have to approve Alice's friend request before they are listed as friends. Some social networking sites have a "favorites" feature that does not need approval from the other user. Social networks usually have privacy controls that allows the user to choose who can view their profile or contact them, etc.

Some social networking sites are created for the benefits of others, such as parents social networking site "Gurgle". This website is for parents to talk about pregnancy, birth and bringing up children.

Several social networks in Asian markets such as India, China, Japan and Korea have reached not only a high usage but also a high level of profitability. Services such as QQ (China), Mixi (Japan), Cyworld (Korea) or the mobile-focused service Mobile Game Town by the company DeNA in Japan (which has over 10 million users) are all profitable, setting them apart from their western counterparts.

The social status of an individual is revealed on social networks. Sociologist Erving Goffman refers to the “Interaction Order” which he claims is the “part of the social life where face-to-face and spoken interactions occur” (Rhiengold: 2002, P171). He believes that the way people represent themselves provides other users information about them they want others to believe, while concealing the rest. Goffman believes that people also give off “information leaking true but uncontrolled information along with their more deliberate performances” (Rheingold: 2002, P171). Through social networks people are now able to completely control the information provided about themselves through the photos they include, the information provided, whether it be true or false and the friends they make. People are therefore now able to control their personal information and their desired social status.

Some social networks have additional features, such as the ability to create groups that share common interests or affiliations, upload or stream live videos, and hold discussions in forums. Geosocial networking co-opts internet mapping services to organize user participation around geographic features and their attributes.

There is also a trend for more interoperability between social networks led by technologies such as OpenID and OpenSocial.

Lately, mobile social networking has become popular. In most mobile communities, mobile phone users can now create their own profiles, make friends, participate in chat rooms, create chat rooms, hold private conversations, share photos and videos, and share blogs by using their mobile phone. Mobile phone users are basically open to every option that someone sitting on the computer has. Some companies provide wireless services which allow their customers to build their own mobile community and brand it, but one of the most popular wireless services for social networking in North America is Facebook Mobile. Other companies provide new innovative features which extend the social networking experience into the real world.

Few social networks currently charge money for membership. In part, this may be because social networking is a relatively new service, and the value of using them has not been firmly established in customers' minds. Companies such as MySpace and Facebook sell online advertising on their site. Hence, they are seeking large memberships, and charging for membership would be counterproductive. Some believe that the deeper information that the sites have on each user will allow much better targeted advertising than any other site can currently provide.

Social networks operate under an autonomous business model, in which a social network's members serve dual roles as both the suppliers and the consumers of content. This is in contrast to a traditional business model, where the suppliers and consumers are distinct agents. Revenue is typically gained in the autonomous business model via advertisements, but subscription-based revenue is possible when membership and content levels are sufficiently high.

On large social networking services, there have been growing concerns about users giving out too much personal information and the threat of sexual predators. Users of these services need to be aware of data theft or viruses. However, large services, such as MySpace, often work with law enforcement to try to prevent such incidents.

In addition, there is a perceived privacy threat in relation to placing too much personal information in the hands of large corporations or governmental bodies, allowing a profile to be produced on an individual's behavior on which decisions, detrimental to an individual, may be taken.

Furthermore, there is an issue over the control of data—information having been altered or removed by the user may in fact be retained and/or passed to 3rd parties. This danger was highlighted when the controversial social networking site Quechup harvested e-mail addresses from users' e-mail accounts for use in a spamming operation.

In medical and scientific research, asking subjects for information about their behaviors is normally strictly scrutinized by institutional review boards, for example, to ensure that adolescents and their parents have informed consent. It is not clear whether the same rules apply to researchers who collect data from social networking sites. These sites often contain a great deal of data that is hard to obtain via traditional means. Even though the data are public, republishing it in a research paper might be considered invasion of privacy.

There has been a trend for social networking sites to send out only 'positive' notifications to users. For example sites such as Bebo, Facebook, and Myspace will not send notifications to users when they are removed from a person's friends list. Similarly Bebo will send out a notification if a user is moved to the top of another user's friends list but no notification is sent if they are moved down the list.

This allows users to purge undesirables from their list extremely easily and often without confrontation since a user will rarely notice if one person disappears from their friends list. It also enforces the general positive atmosphere of the website without drawing attention to unpleasant happenings such as friends falling out, rejection and failed relationships.

Many social networking services such as Facebook, provide the user the choice of who can view their profile. This prevents unauthorized user(s) from accessing their information.

To edit information on a certain social networking service account, the social networking sites require you to login or provide an access code. This prevents unauthorized user(s) from editing an account such as posting pictures and editing personal information.

Social network services are increasingly being used in legal and criminal investigations. Information posted on sites such as MySpace and Facebook has been used by police, probation, and university officials to prosecute users of said sites. In some situations, content posted on MySpace has been used in court.

Facebook is increasingly being used by school administrations and law enforcement agencies as a source of evidence against student users. The site, the number one online destination for college students, allows users to create profile pages with personal details. These pages can be viewed by other registered users from the same school which often include resident assistants and campus police who have signed-up for the service. It has recently been revealed that some UK police forces are using social network services such as Facebook to help their crack down on knife and gun crime. It is believed that up to 400 users of Facebook have been arrested as a result of searches of this site revealing users posing with dangerous weapons.

The relative freedom afforded by social networking services has caused concern regarding the potential of its misuse by individual patrons. In October 2006, a fake Myspace profile created in the name of Josh Evans by Lori Janine Drew led to the suicide of Megan Meier. The event incited global concern regarding the use of social networking services for bullying purposes.

In July 2008, a Briton, Grant Raphael, was ordered to pay a total of GBP £22,000 (about USD $44,000) for libel and breach of privacy. Raphael had posted a fake page on Facebook purporting to be that of a former schoolfriend Matthew Firsht, with whom Raphael had fallen out in 2000. The page falsely claimed that Firsht was homosexual and that he was dishonest.

At the same, genuine use of social networking services has been treated with suspicion on the ground of the services' misuse. In September 2008, the profile of Australian Facebook user Elmo Keep was banned by the site's administrators on the grounds that it violated the site's terms of use. Keep is one of several users of Facebook who were banned from the site on the presumption that their names aren't real, as they bear resemblance the names of characters like Sesame Street's Elmo. The misuse of social networking services has led many to cast doubt over whether any information on these services can in fact be regarded as true.

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Source : Wikipedia