Yes Virginia Twitter is a Social Network
In order to establish that Twitter is a “social networking” platform and not simply an “information network” we must begin with the definitions which will establish the criteria by which we will analyze Twitter.
“A social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called “nodes”, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.”
n.a. (2011) “Social Network.” Wikipedia [on-line] accessed 22 September 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network
“We define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.
While we use the term “social network site” to describe this phenomenon, the term “social networking sites” also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. We chose not to employ the term “networking” for two reasons: emphasis and scope. “Networking” emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC).
What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. “
Ellison, N. B. and Boyd, D (2007). “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 210–230, October. Accessed via Wiley Online Library 22 September 2011 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x/full
From the list we can establish a list of criteria that distinguish social networks from information networks:
- A social structure made of nodes
- A public or semi-public profile
- Relationship initiation
- An interdependent connection
- A variety of factors upon which to predicate connections (ie friendship, common interest, beliefs, etc)
- The ability to articulate lists of other users with shared associations
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