In a decade, Facebook has rocketed from a website launched out of a dorm room to a billion-dollar, globe-spanning enterprise. How has its proliferation affected our interactions? Here's a look at a study that measured how we used the site.
Today, Facebook has dropped the “the,” has more than 1.19 billion active users, and is valued at more than $100 billion dollars. Success story and billions aside, studies have shown the social network has fundamentally changed the way people socialize around the world, and brought about a slew of new phenomena into human interaction. With Tuesday marking Facebook's 10th birthday, Pew Research released new numbers that reveal how the site has changed the lives of millions.
There is little doubt that Facebook is currently the dominant social network: More than 57 percent of all US adults and 73 percent of Americans ages 12 to 17 use the site. Adult users are frequenting the site more than ever before, with 64 percent of Facebook users visiting the site every day, up from 51 percent of users who were daily users in 2010.
Pew statistics show that about half of Facebook users have more than 200 friends. Younger users tend to have larger networks – 27 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Facebook users have more than 500 friends, while 72 percent of Facebook users old than 69 have 100 friends or fewer.
Men and women tend to use the site at the same frequency, but women tend to use the site more for its community and sharing functions. Women are more likely than men to use the site for seeing photos and videos, sharing with many people at once, learning about ways to help others, and receiving support from people in your network. But men and women are equally likely to cite receiving updates or comments, keeping up with news and current events, and getting feedback on the content they have posted as major reasons for using the site.
But what has all this sharing done to the perception of our social networks?
One of the phrases social media has arguably ushered in is the idea of “FOMO” or Fear Of Missing Out. Essentially, the idea is that being able to see the online communication, pictures, status updates, and events of your entire social network in one feed can cause anxiety about whether you have missed out on a fun activity or a cool experience. Though FOMO has gotten a lot of media play, Pew found that only five percent of Facebook users “strongly dislike” that Facebook shows them social events they were not a part of, and more than 84 percent say this doesn’t bother them at all.
That doesn’t mean Facebook users want to see everything their friends are doing at all times. 36 percent of Facebook users say they strongly dislike over-sharing and that people can post pictures and information about you without your permission.
This touches on two major debates that Facebook and other social media have created: what is the role of privacy and the public self online? 27 percent of respondents say they strongly dislike the possibility that other people can see your content, even if you don’t want them to, and 24 percent say they strongly dislike the temptation to share too much information about yourself.
This being said, Facebook continues to be a pervasive force in our society, even for people without accounts. 52 percent of Internet users without a Facebook account say someone else in their household has an account. 24 percent of those who live with an account holder say they look at photos or posts through the other persons’ account.