Tag Archives: nytimes

Does Social Networking Breed Social Division?

Riva Richmond of the NYTimes asks, “Is the social media revolution bringing us together? Or is it perpetuating divisions by race and class?”

The graph above is part of a study done by Eszter Hargittai, an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University, who surveyed both 2007 and 2009 first-year college students, ages 18 and 19, at the diverse campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hargittai is interested, among other things, in the socioeconomic differences between Facebook and Myspace. In Hargaittai’s research has “found that Hispanics were much less likely to use Facebook than anyone else and much more likely to use MySpace. Whites, African-Americans and Asian-Americans were all big users of Facebook, with 80 percent or more of each group using it sometimes or often.”

So why the difference? Riva Richmond writes, “Students from less educated families were still more likely to use MySpace, while those from more educated families were more likely to use Facebook. So is this white flight? Yes, but it’s not quite so simple, she (Hargittai) says. Everyone is fleeing MySpace, and whites and Asians are fleeing in larger numbers.”

We encourage you to read Riva Richmond’s piece in its entirety here:

Does Social Networking Breed Social Division?


Eszter Hargittai’s blog

China joins Iran in Blocking Social Media During Protest Crackdowns


Digital East Asia reports that with the death toll and number of injured mounting, China is trying to both stop the demonstrators and squash their message through control of social media. This crackdown, seems to be attempting to limit the access of those involved in protests to the tools to spread and organize their message.The New York Times reports, “In an attempt to contain China’s worst ethnic violence in decades, the authorities had imposed curfews, cut off cellphone and Internet services and sent armed police officers into neighborhoods after the first riot, but protesters massed across the city as rumors spread of fresh violence being committed by both sides.”

New Protests in Western China After Deadly Clashes

Happening Now: China joins Iran in Blocking Social Media During Protest Crackdowns

Overuse of Social Networking?

The editors of The New York Times, ask, “Is there such a thing as overuse of social networking tools? In the online world, is the notion of a public/private divide simply not applicable?”

Throughout the post, the editors consulted the following experts in the online social media field:

Clay Shirky, Interactive Telecommunications Program at N.Y.U
Timothy B. Lee, Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy
Susan Mernit, former AOL vice president and blogger
David E. Meyer psychology professor, University of Michigan

Clay Shirky, “Society has always carved out space for young people to misbehave. We used to do this by making a distinction between behavior we couldn’t’t see, because it was hidden, and behavior we could see, because it was public. That bargain is now broken, because social life increasingly includes a gray area that is publicly available, but not for public consumption.”

Timothy B. Lee, “Many users find these tools inconvenient or hard to use, and some are careless about posting information that could become embarrassing in the future. But we shouldn’t be too impatient; the offline world has a centuries-long head start in developing privacy-preserving tools and social conventions.”

Susan Merit, “One of the truths of social media that is hard to face is that micro information can be both embarrassing and boring, leading to a terminal case of twittering too hard and to the need to get over yourself. Wondering if you’ve crossed the line? If you have to ask, you probably have.”

David E. Meyer, “Excessive multitasking can lead to chronic stress, with potential damage to the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems. Fatal accidents are more likely too. Nobody, not even the inveterate multitasker, is completely invulnerable to these effects. “

After reviewing the comments of these experts, what do you think warrants an overuse of social networking?