Facebook and the influence on our daily lives

Pre-University Paper, 2011

16 Pages, Grade: 14 Punkte


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. An overview of Facebook

3. Reasons why Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook

4. Reasons for the great success of Facebook based on differences to other social networks

5. Dangers of Facebook
5.1 Loss of privacy
5.2 Cyber crime
5.3 The effects of being dependent on Facebook

6. Benefits of Facebook
6.1 Benefits for commercial users
6.2 Benefits for regular users

7. Potential uses of Facebook by government agencies and politicians
7.1 The increasingly important role of Facebook in politics
7.2 Further examples of how different government agencies make use of Facebook

8. How Facebook has changed Egypt
8.1 The development of “The 6th of April Youth Movement
8.2 The effects of the 6th of April Youth Movement on Egyptian politics

9. Conclusion

10. Bibliography

1. Introduction

I have chosen this topic because I am very interested in social media in general. I use Facebook very often and it is astonishing that almost everybody of my friends is registered on Facebook as well. In my opinion the new way to communicate with people via the Internet and especially via Facebook is a revolution, just like the invention of the cell phone. Furthermore I am interested in figuring out the possibilities and chances that Facebook brings along. Although there are very much benefits Facebook offers, sometimes I have heard about criticism as well. I am looking forward to finding out detailed information about Facebook to be able to use the social networking service as efficient as possible in the near future.

2. An overview of Facebook

Facebook is with over 500 million users the world’s largest social network. The Ex-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg founded it in February 2004 and originally only Harvard students were allowed to join the network.1 After just a week Facebook had nearly 3000 users, and Mark got E- Mails from other college students requesting to join his network.2

Since September 2006 everyone is able to join this network. You have to be at least 13 years old and you have to sign up at www.facebook.com with your real name and an existing E- Mail address.3

In January 2011 Goldman Sachs invested about $500 million in Facebook. This deal values the company at $50 billion. After this investment Facebook announced that they would begin to report their financial results by April 2012 because Facebook is going to be a possible candidate for an Initial Public Offer.4

With the help of Facebook, users are able to create and customize their own online profile very easily. They are capable of indicating their hobbies or just write some general information about themselves. Moreover they are able to connect to other real friends when they send a friend request to them.

All users have a wall, which is almost the same like a guestbook. But they can do much more with this wall as they can do with a normal guestbook. For example they are able to share websites, photos or videos, so everyone who is connected to you can see what you have posted on your personal wall and comment on it.

Another basic function of Facebook is the personal message which is similar to a normal E- Mail. It is useful to use this function when you want to talk to someone in private. As a user you are also able to set many different privacy settings. For example you can restrict people from watching your profile in case they aren’t connected to you.

Facebook can be used for many different things. For example you can use Facebook to stay in touch with friends you don’t see very often, you can find new friends, you can play online games, you can share every kind of multimedia application, or you can just look for what your friends are doing at the moment.5

3. Reasons why Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook. He is born in Dobbs Ferry on the 14th of May 1986. He has studied Computer Science at Harvard University.6 His father Edward Zuckerberg is a dentist and his mother Karen is a psychiatrist. He has three sisters, and when he got his first computer he was about 12 years old. He immediately developed a large interest for working with a computer and for creating useful programs like the “Zucknet”, a program that allowed the Zuckerberg family to communicate within the house via electronic devices.7

After the release of the film “The Social Network”, which deals with Mark Zuckerberg’s college life and the story of founding Facebook, Mark gave several interviews in which he clearly says that the film doesn’t show the real story behind Facebook. Many important facts are wrong depicted. For example when you watch the film, you get the impression that Zuckerberg founded Facebook because he wanted to impress some girls from his university or because he searched for social contacts. But in truth he had a completely different intention to found Facebook.8 He aimed to make the world a more open place and he wanted to enhance the relationships of people who already know each other, so that they can understand the world around them better. He never wanted to get rich with his projects; he only wanted people to get out more of their lives. Even as the company was huge and very successful, Zuckerberg wasn’t interested in maximizing the profit by selling advertising; he wanted to increase the efficiency of his platform to keep the users happy.9

Marc Zuckerberg said: “We’re a utility. We’re trying to increase the efficiency through which people can understand their world. We’re not trying to maximize the time spent on our site. We’re trying to help people have a good experience and get the maximum amount out of that time”.10

4. Reasons for the great success of Facebook based on differences to other social networks

Although Facebook is called a social network just as MySpace or Twitter, it is the most used and popular one. One reason for being the most successful social network deals with the term privacy. In contrast to MySpace, Facebook allows its users to limit particular pieces of information for certain target groups. MySpace also has different privacy settings, but compared with Facebook users of MySpace aren’t able to customize their privacy settings in an appropriate way. Either you have a public profile, or you have a very exclusive profile. But on Facebook you are able to have both at the same time. On the one hand you can hide very secret information, and on the other hand you’re able to publish information that is not very private.11

Furthermore the Facebook page is constructed more straightforward than the MySpace page. As a user who isn’t that schooled and experienced in dealing with computers and especially with the Internet, joining and interacting on Facebook is much more easier than it is on MySpace. Facebook is very self- explanatory, so after using it for a short while you know almost everything what you need to know to use it correctly.12

But the most important difference to other social networks is the News Feed function of Facebook. This function shows the latest news on the users page based on how many of his or her friends have interacted with the specific piece content. For example when two of your friends share two different contents and content A is not as often commented, watched or liked as content B, you will see content B at the top of your News Feed list. With the help of this function users will never get bored, they always will be informed about the latest news in their network.13

5. Dangers of Facebook

5.1 Loss of privacy

The biggest danger for users of Facebook is the loss of privacy. Most users of Facebook don’t think about who is able to see their online activities. Although Facebook offers its users many possibilities to customize their privacy settings, only the fewest use them correctly. For example they are able to restrict certain target groups (for example people they aren’t connected to) to search for them and to send them a friend request or a personal message. Furthermore the users of Facebook can determine which parts of their profile they want to show in public and which they want to keep secret. For example they can allow selected target groups to see which school they visit or which job they have, but at the same time they can restrict them to see where they live or to have a look at the activities on their personal wall. The problem is that Facebook doesn’t challenge new users to optimize their privacy settings before taking part in the social network. Users often post photos without thinking of who will see them.14 And especially youth people who apply for jobs and for universities should pay attention which information they publish on their online profiles. Many users don’t know that not only their friends watch their online activities.

“A 2009 poll of U.S. employers found that 35 percent of companies had rejected applicants because of information they found on social networks.” 15

Even the president Barack Obama himself said in front of a group of high school students: “I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook, because in the YouTube age, whatever you do will be pulled up later somewhere in your life.” He delivered this speech because there was an incident with Jon Favreau the speechwriter of Obama. A friend published a photo on Facebook that shows Favreau on the breast of a cardboard of Hillary Clinton.16

5.2 Cyber crime

Another big danger for Facebook users is cyber-crime. Unfortunately none of your personal data is really safe on Facebook, but there is no difference to other Internet platforms. There are, and there always will be hackers who are capable of hacking the passwords of online accounts to get access to private information.

Due to being the world’s largest social network, Facebook is full of applications, games and advertising that contains spyware, malware or other harmful programs, which try to control your profile or to get secret information of you.17 In fact the very famous game FarmVille with over 47 million active users monthly18, violated the privacy settings of Facebook. Personal information including the “Facebook ID” (a unique identity number that every user of Facebook has since he is registered) of FarmVille users and even friends of FarmVille users was transmitted to different advertising and data companies. The problem is that with the help of the Facebook ID anyone is able to have a closer look at your online Facebook profile regardless whether the user has the most strict privacy settings or not. RapLeaf is one of the companies who obtained personal data from Facebook applications. RapLeaf used these Facebook IDs for their own database to sell private information from Facebook users. Shortly afterwards Facebook has limited the permission from RapLeafs to interact on Facebook.19

5.3 The effects of being dependent on Facebook

The average Facebook user log on to Facebook every day, has 130 friends, creates 90 pieces of content each month, and is connected to about 90 groups, pages or events.20 This statistic shows some kind of dependence that is not to underestimate. Facebook has developed to a platform that is able to create psychological dependency. There are people who share almost everything of their lives, no matter how private, familiar or intimate the information is. It is frightening that everybody who is connected to somebody, no matter how close his or her relationship is in real life, is able to see what somebody post or share on his or her wall. At the present day Facebook users let their friends know when they wake up, what they are going to do, where they are at the moment and finally when they go to bed.21

Using Facebook has become some kind of competition for some people. There are many people who aspire after having as many friends as possible to impress their friends and to show them how popular they are. The problem is that they add some people they don’t know, just to increase their amount of friends in Facebook.22

On the one hand to be connected to strangers includes very big dangers because when you get connected to people you have never seen before, they are able to follow almost every activity you perform on Facebook, dependent on your personal privacy settings. And on the other hand, when somebody uses Facebook in that way, he misunderstood the function of social networks in general.23 All users of Social Networks should know the idea behind a Social Network; otherwise he or she is going to destroy the concept of social networking.

As a result of being contingent on Facebook or other social networks, various dangers are going to emerge. One example is the loss of true social contacts. Even for people who haven’t got many friends and who aren’t self opinionated in their real life, social networks such as Facebook are a possibility to give them the feeling of being somebody. They search for appreciation and confirmation. But Facebook has not been created to help people in that way. These problems must be realised by the family or friends of such people. Otherwise they get more and more addicted to a virtual network and they probably will forget to live their real lives.24


1 cf. http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook (Updated: 03/29/11)

2 cf. The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, 2010: S. 35

3 cf. http://www.techterms.com/definition/facebook (Published: 01/14/08)

4 cf. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/facebook_inc/index.html (Updated: 03/29/11)

5 cf. http://www.facebook.com (Updated: 04/12/11)

6 cf. http://www.facebook.com/zuck (Updated: 04/26/11)

7 cf. http://www.biography.com/articles/Mark-Zuckerberg-507402 (Updated: 04/26/11)

8 cf. http://gawker.com/#!5666923/facebook-founder-says-his-intentions-were-pure (Updated: 08/18/10)

9 cf. The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, 2010: S. 11/43 cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v32AABzvCyc (Updated: 04/26/11)

10 The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, 2010: S. 10

11 cf. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13515_3-9730290-26.html (Published: 15.06.07)

12 cf. http://www.facebook.com (Updated: 04/28/11) / cf. http://www.myspace.com (Updated: 04/28/11)

13 cf. http://kenyarmosh.com/blog/7-reasons-why-facebook-is-rocking/ (Published: 05/22/07)

14 cf. http://www.facebook.com (Updated: 04/28/11)

15 The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, 2010: S. 204/205

16 The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, 2010: S. 204/205

17 cf. http://www.facebook.com (Updated: 04/28/11)

18 cf. http://www.facebook.com/FarmVille (Updated: 04/28/11)

19 cf. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304772804575558484075236968.html (Published: 08/18/10) / cf. http://kotaku.com/#!5667215/report-farmville-breaks-facebook-privacy-rules-sends-personal-info-to-ad-firms (Published: 08/18/10)

20 cf. http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics (Updated: 04/29/11)

21 cf. http://www.facebook.com (Updated: 04/29/11)

22 cf. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Trying-to-add-as-many-friends-as-possible/253834117564 (Updated: 04/29/11)

23 cf. The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, 2010: S. 10/11/43

24 cf. http://www.facebook.com (Updated: 04/29/11)

Excerpt out of 16 pages


Facebook and the influence on our daily lives
Englisch Leistungskurs
14 Punkte
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Facebook, influence, mark zuckerberg, success, network, social media, social network, threats, opportunities, dangers, privacy, cyber crime, benefit, commercial, private, government, politics, egypt, april youth movement
Quote paper
Maximilian Mayr (Author), 2011, Facebook and the influence on our daily lives, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/465452


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