With Facebook in the news lately because of privacy concerns about its business model I was reminded of a Gulf Coast Live show we did back in 2008. It was called Facebook…for Grown-Ups? My guest was Dr. Nicole Ellison, she was, and still is, an assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University. She was doing research at the time on college students' use of Facebook, and its more established predecessor Myspace. She was looking at things like how it builds what she called ‘social capital’. Well, I sat down and re-listened to that show through today’s ears and wow, talk about a throwback Thursday!
We started the show with a basic description of what Facebook, and social networking, even is. At the time Facebook had about 125 million users, which seemed like a huge number, but it was mostly students, and that’s almost a tiny number compared to the more than 2.2 billion users they currently have.
The main gist of our conversation was an exploration of how using such a network might change the way we interact with each other in the ‘real’ world. Whether it might make us less likely to personally interact, or if it might actually make us interact more often in person because of the increased ability to make plans? And, if using such a site might be a waste of our time? We were mostly just marveling at how easy it made it to keep up with old friend who had moved away.
At no point did we, or the callers who joined in, ever stop to consider the privacy implications, other than whether future employers might be able to see how we behave in our personal lives. One caller mentioned how it somehow might someday become ‘a good marketing tool’. It’s mentioned briefly how the world of politics might take to using such a site to get the word out someday, but overall the show did not discuss any of the things Facebook is in the news for today. We hope you enjoy this fascinating throwback episode of Gulf Coast Live, first broadcast on December 3, 2008.