How to look at someones top friends on myspace

Failing to understand the culture of Friending that has emerged in social network sites contributes to the fear of the media and concerned parents over how they envision participants to be socializing. Persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences are all properties that participants must negotiate when on social network sites. I will draw on ethnographic data that I collected between and The first half of my study focused primarily on Friendster while I have primarily focused on MySpace since late My data includes interviews, participant observation, blog commentary, survey responses, focus groups, mailing list discussions, bulletin posts, and profile material [ 2 ].

The vast majority of my subjects and those that I observed are ; my study of minors only began when I started examining MySpace. While both Friendster and MySpace have grown to attract participants from around the world, their early adopters were primarily American. The scope of this paper is intentionally narrow; I am only addressing one particular practice on social network sites: Friending.


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To get a better sense of what else takes places on these sites, see boyd , Donath and boyd , boyd and Heer , boyd b , and boyd in press. The history of these sites and their relationship with their users is complicated and may be of interest to some readers. To better understand this, see boyd a.

What constitutes a friend?

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In everyday vernacular, a friend is a relationship that involves some degree of mutual love or admiration. Some people exclude sexual partners and family members from this category while others talk about how such an individual is also a friend in order to indicate a degree of trust. In order to make claims about friendship, social network analysts have relied on people self-reporting their friends, articulating the strength of their ties to others, or demarcating friendship based on what levels of support one is willing to offer another.

These approaches have their strengths and weaknesses and sociologists are aware that such terms are ambiguously, particularly cross-culturally [ 4 ]. Indeed, friendship itself is culturally dependent and people use the term differently in different cultural communities. Adams and Allan argue that friendship must be understood in a contextual frame because "the contexts within which friendships develop influence the forms which friendship take" [ 5 ].

Furthermore, the term itself is interpreted differently in different cultures. In discussing Friendship with both participant and non-participant Americans, it seems as though friendship indicates an exceptionally strong relationship with expectations for emotional and practical support. In other words, friends are expected to provide a shoulder to cry on, be a partner in crime, and guarantee to bail you out of jail. For many, the category of friend carries an aura of exclusivity and intimacy unlike the categories acquaintance or contact, which suggest familiarity but not closeness.

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Although there are general sentiments about the exclusive nature of friendship, the boundaries between friends and acquaintances are quite blurry and it is unlikely that there will ever be consensus on a formula for what demarcates a friend. To complicate a discussion of friendship, there is a difference in how people perceive others and how they express their perception of others. By confiding in the listener, Heather is also indicating that she trusts the listener more than she trusts William. Such backstage commentary helps solidify the relationship between Heather and the listener.

Meet the people who still use Myspace: 'It's given me so much joy'

The listener is then expected to help Heather maintain face. It can be used to save face when concerning someone who is not particularly liked but it can also indicate a more powerful relationship than exists because that might make the speaker look important e. While the term can be used deceptively, this is not always the case. For example, the speaker may want to make certain that the listener understands key relationships so as to properly adjust whatever might be said about a third party e.

The speaker may also be providing an opening for the listener to ask a favor, subtly hinting that there is a tie there that can be leveraged if only the listener will ask e. Because this expression has multiple meanings, it leaves room for a variety of different interpretations. When people articulate their relations on social network sites, they are not simply projecting their internal model of tie strength. The public nature of these sites requires participants to perform their relationship to others, not unlike the examples given above.

Their choice in how to do this is deeply influenced by the technological affordances of a given system and their perception of who might be looking. When people login to a social network site, they are required to craft a Profile. This Profile includes information about their demographics and tastes, a self-description, and often photos that provide a visual image.

What differentiates social network sites [ 6 ] from other computer-mediated communication sites is the feature that allows participants to articulate and publicly display their relations to others in the system, which, in turn, allows viewers to traverse the network. This sends a message to the other user requesting Friendship. Thus, when users are surfing social network sites, they can hop from one Profile to another through a chain of Friendship.

Beyond this general description, the details of how Friendship works are site-specific. Not everyone took the Friendship process seriously. Because the company felt it would make the site more intimate, Friendster limits users from surfing to Profiles beyond four degrees Friends of Friends of Friends of Friends. For users seeking to meet new people, growing this number matters. For those who wanted it to be intimate, keeping the number smaller was more important. Thus, connecting to Collectors or connecting to people who connect to Collectors opens you up to a large network rather quickly.

While Collectors could be anyone interested in amassing many Friends, fake Profiles were developed to aid in this process. These Fakesters included characters, celebrities, objects, icons, institutions, and ideas. By connecting people with shared interests or affiliations, Fakesters supported networking between like-minded individuals. Because play and connecting were primary incentives for many Fakesters, they welcomed any and all Friends.

Likewise, people who wanted access to more people connected to Fakesters. This began the deletion of all Fakesters in what was eventually termed the Fakester Genocide [ 8 ]. While Friendster was irritated by fake Profiles, MySpace embraced this practice. Bands who had been kicked off of Friendster were some of the earliest MySpace users. Over time, movie stars, politicians, porn divas, comedians, and other celebrities joined the fray.

Often, the person behind these Profiles was not the celebrity but a manager.

Corporations began creating Profiles for their products and brands. While Friendster eventually began allowing such fake Profiles for a fee, MySpace never charged people for their commercial uses. People connect to Fakesters, celebrities, and commercial Profiles for a variety of reasons. Some are simply entertained by the Profiles themselves. Others feel as though these Profiles say something about who they are. Some companies offer incentives to beFriend them, such as being entered into a drawing. Fakesters, celebrities, and commercial Profiles are not the only groups engaged in collecting.

As with all derogative identifiers, this offended some and rallied others. On Friendster, some people objected to Collectors because of their effect on the network. The company was particularly irritated with how these Collectors made it difficult to search and slowed the network to a halt.

Thus, they tried to eliminate Fakesters and restrict how many Friends one could have in the hopes that through features they could force Friends to only include friends [ 10 ]. As people began using the site, they overloaded Friends to mean more than simply a representation of friendship. Is this friendship? Just as the reasons for stating that someone is your friend are quite varied, the reasons for Friendship vary tremendously.

For some participants, only the closest pals are listed while others include acquaintances. Some will choose to list people they admire as Friends while others hope that Friending a celebrity will make them look cool. They primarily found that Friendship stood for: content, offline facilitator, online community, trust, courtesy, declaration, or nothing. When I asked participants about their practices on Friendster and MySpace, I found very similar incentives.

The most common reasons for Friendship that I heard from users [ 11 ] were:. These incentives account for a variety of different connections. While the first three reasons all concern people that you know, the rest can explain why people connect to a lot of people that they do not know. By tying Friendship to privacy settings, social network sites encourage people to choose Friends based on what they want to make visible.

Above, we discussed how companies use bulletins to pass information, but it is important to note that the bulletins are used for a much wide array of practices. They are used to spread gossip, share MySpace hacks, and in a few cases, rally people to act politically.

Finally, there are significant social costs to rejecting someone boyd, When a Friend request is sent, the recipient is given two options: accept or decline. This is usually listed under a list of pending connections that do not disappear until one of the two choices is selected. Additionally, many systems let the sender see which of their requests is still pending. Thus, they know whether or not the recipient acted upon it.

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This feature encourages recipients to leave an awkward relationship as pending but to complicate matters, most systems also display when a person last logged in on their Profile. Since it is generally known that the pending list is the first thing you see when you login, it is considered rude to login and not respond to a request. In LJ, Friendship does not require reciprocity.


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  8. Anyone can list anyone else as a Friend; this articulation is public but there is no notification. The value of Friendship on LJ is deeply connected to the privacy settings and subscription processes. When someone posts an LJ entry, they have a choice as to whether the post should be public, private, Friends-only, or available to subgroups of Friends.

    On MySpace and Friendster, there is little to lose by being loose with Friendship and more to gain; the perception is that there is much more to lose on LJ.