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Monday, June 25, 2007

i'm rich! duh i use facebook.

A recent 6 month research project conducted at UC Berkeley by PhD student Danah Boyd reveals that Facebook users are of a higher socioeconmic class than MySpace users. Boyd defines class not just by how much money someone makes, but also by their ambitions, how much education they have recieved, race, religion, and geographic location. Initially I was intrigued by such a sweeping generalization, but upon deeper analysis, I realized that Boyd is totally wrong in her findings. Not to say they are completely devoid of merit, but Danah's conclusions are forgetting one very important aspect of Facebook's history--it was started at Harvard in 2004 and remained a social network that only college students and alumni and highschoolers could be a part of until September 2006. MySpace; on the other hand, is a social network that has never discriminated against users who weren't associated with an educational institution (that's why when I was 18, 36 year old men were messaging me). So, the very history of both MySpace and Facebook accounts for this observed difference in class of people who use the online social networks. I am not sure why something so evident to me, a recent college graduate, escaped dear Danah Boyd.
She also claims that Facebook users are for the most part white and degree seeking, while the MySpace user demographic contains more latinos and hispanics and "the kids who are socially ostracised at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers." Again, these findings can be explained by who could join Facebook in the past as well as nationwide statistics on races and classes of people who attend college.
I use both MySpace and Facebook, and for different reasons. Facebook is what I use to talk to friends and when I am feeling a bit voyeuristic. MySpace is what I use when I want to check out new bands or friend a 45 year old.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand how this makes her findings wrong? Perhaps you are disagreeing with what the point of her research was, or the question she was asking, but everything you've said seems to support her findings. Even if the two have different histories, that doesn't detract from their current usages.

I would agree that Facebook started as a way for college kids to rate each other's attractiveness (the paper face book, a printed copy of pictures of all in-coming freshmen, was quite popular at Ivy League and other pretentious schools, so upperclassmen could decide who to mack on), but that still means its users are more likely to have college degrees. So yes, the two networking sites were started for different reasons and by different groups. I'm not sure, without having read the original study, only your analysis, that Boyd is making some sort of derogatory point from all this. Was Boyd merely pointing this difference out? Because yes, this difference does exist, for whatever reason. Or does Boyd not mention these histories at all, and this is what you find fault with?

Or maybe I don't understand your post?

8/19/07, 7:50 PM  

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