Internet takes an important role in this era, it become popular in every area of life from the schools to multinational corporations. In addition, Internet itself is also a great tool to connect people together into a huge social networking project “(European Commission, 2008)”.
On the other hand, social networking is also understood as online community where everyone could connecting each other over the internet. That definition of online community could be confused to many people. So it will be figured out to be clear for the rest.
What is an online community?
- Online community could be understood by the combination of online and community. Furthermore, following “the dictionary”, online is connected by computer to one or more other computers or networks, as through a commercial electronic information service or the Internet; and community is a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. Therefore, an online community is formed on the internet where a group of people can interact, share, and work toward a common goal. Whereas neighbours may have their conversations in their yards, via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ social networks are the places where members interact virtually. They also share in forums, e-mail groups, and even in the comments sections of blog posts and news articles, according to Deborah Ng
What characteristics do they have?
- Firstly, instant information can be exchanged on online community that is not possible in a real-life community. That is an advantage of social networking. In the past, people could contact each other by landline phone or letters. However it could take days to months for sending and receiving letters; and land-line phone calls could cost more depends on the time and geography. On the other hand, Nowadays according to Donna Cosmato, a person can make new friends, share interest, search for a job, find romance, make or receive advice on a career or personal issues on internet. For the business aspect, companies could reach customer needs, and reduce their marketing costs, according to Launch House. Obviously, business can save cost for advertising, increase the marketing plan and approach and support customers easier. Besides that, they can obtain the needs of the customers by collecting customer data, so they can use right methods for right products to expand the market, according to Arthur Armstrong and John Hagel III.
- Secondly, the online community is growing quickly, it could be a less secure and private place for everyone. In fact, people tend to share their locations to their commutation like checking-in. This could be used for tracking purposes. According to Donna Cosmato, online community could increase cyberbullying and crimes against children, risks of fraud or identity theft, and corporate invasion of privacy. Undoubtedly, in 2010 there are 93 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 use the Internet, and 63 percent of them use the Internet daily (as Paw Research). Thus, high usage increases the risk of their being victims of cyberbullying or other cybercrimes. Moreover, over 24 million Americans put their personal information at risk by posting it on public sites such as social communities, according to CNET. Especially according to TechTimes, hacker has leaked about 13,000 users information including usernames, password, credit card numbers and card expiration dates on a number of sites insist of PlayStation Network, Walmart, Dell, Hulu Plus, Xbox Live, Amazon, several dating and porn sites.
Where do they occur?
- By the need of changing life and work style is growing rapidly, the gap left by fragmentation the pieces of offline social groups could be filled by online communities. The benefit of online community in business is a strong signal of the fact that it is also developing and growing steadily. It is the time for business to improve the security on internet and online users learn how to protect them and be safe on virtual world. Although there are many challenges and problems in the current, its future looks very bright, rapidly and steadily. (Baxter H.)
- E.g For me, I spend almost time on Facebook, Instagram and Google+. Depending on my needs, I use social networks for different purposes, Facebook for connecting with friends about life, Instagram for advertising my own cooking, and Google+ for learning.
Baxter H., An Introduction to Online Communities, Sift (Online Resource)
European Commission, The Future of the Internet. Information Society and Media, 2008 (Online resource)
Gruzd A., Wellman B., & Takhteyev Y., Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community, American Behavioral Scientist, 2011