Thing 18: Facebook and MySpace

Facebook and MySpace probably get more mainstream press than any other tool on this list—besides blogging. And, as we all know, not all the press is positive. However, social networks are one of the main ways that young adults communicate with each other—55% of all teenagers use social networking sites. Use of these sites has even surpassed landline telephones for a certain percentage of teenagers according to a study (pdf) by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

It is worth noting that these networks incorporate many of the tools we’ve already covered in other Things—blogging, photo and video sharing, internal e-mail, message boards, and IM. One stop shopping is part of their appeal--one user name, one password, all the info in one spot.

Another part of the appeal is the need to “belong to a group” that is a milestone of adolescent development. Young people create their own groups, “friend” people, and more, often without the watchful eye of parent or other authority figure. This is one reasons many teenagers like MySpace and Facebook. Facebook began as a college-focused social network—it originally required a .edu address to join. When it opened up to all comers, many Facebook users were not happy. The exclusivity for young adults seemed lost.

Of course, the lack of the watchful eye is, to some parents, teachers, and librarians, the reason social networks are suspect and can be prone to abuse. Many parents and organizations opt for blocking access to these sites. Others look to education on Internet safety, privacy, appropriate use of technology, and other issues as a way to allow use of these networks that are so important to teens and young adults.

So, what does it all mean to libraries? Whether or not you become a convert to MySpace and/or Facebook, it is important to understand how they work. If our young users are communicating through these networks, we need to be able to be there, too.

In this Thing, you are going to explore a social network. MySpace is the most used social network, but Facebook is currently the fastest growing social network. Facebook is more secure in that it is more difficult to see a user's profile until that person has accepted your friend request.

1. Watch “Social Networking in Plain English” by Common Craft for an explanation.

You have the choice of visiting either Facebook or MySpace--or for the ambitious, both.

A. Facebook

Facebook requires registration in order to view any profiles of members.
1. Register for the site and add 2-3 friends. If you have any difficulty, you can visit this tutorial. There are many other Facebook tutorials on this page that are useful as you find a friend. Be sure to let us know when you join, so we can "friend" you.

2. Complete a profile, write on at least one wall and join at least one group. Here are some possible Facebook Groups to join: (Groups are only visible when logged in to Facebook.)

American Library Association Members
Library 2.0 Interest Group
Libraries Using Facebook Pages
Librarians and Facebook

Or see this list of the Hottest Facebook Groups for Librarians -

3. Check your Facebook Profile at least once in the next week.

B. MySpace

1. Visit MySpace and visit some library MySpace pages and examine their content. Here are some library MySpace pages. You can search for others:

Alachua County Library District MySpace Page
Jacksonville Public Library MySpace Page
Pasco Libraries MySpace Page
Ask a Librarian MySpace Page

2. If you are feeling ambitious, create your own MySpace Page. Add the info to your blog.

Information Wants to be Free blog post that describes some of the pros and cons about venturing into social networks
MySpace Sign Up Step-by Step Instructions from the University of California- Santa Cruz's 23 Things project.
12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally
7 Things You Should Know About Facebook (pdf)

Blog Prompts
Which groups did you join and why? Reflect on why Facebook may be the fastest growing social network. Is that reputation deserved?

How are libraries using MySpace?
Did you find anything on a library's MySpace page that would be useful for your library?
If you created your own MySpace page, how do you plan to use it?

Challenge (optional)
1. Compare and contrast Facebook and MySpace.

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