‘Mediated voyeurism’ – one use of social networks

Yesterday I was wondering what people actually do on social networks. Now we have an answer, at least a partial one, thanks to a comment from Nnamdi which pointed to this research from North Carolina University on Facebook usage.

For students, who make a up a large part of the Facebook user base apparently:

The most prevalent use of Facebook was as a social activity – students reported using Facebook with friends to view and discuss other people’s profiles. Essentially, Facebook appears to operate primarily as a tool for the facilitation of gossip.

A bit later in the study they describe this as mediated voyeurism:

“…the consumption of revealing images of and information about others’ apparently real and unguarded lives, often yet not always for purposes of entertainment but frequently at the expense of privacy and discourse, through the means of mass media and Internet.”

Calvert (2000)

This is only a partial answer as the study was confined to students.

More on this as and when I get some answers.

  • Nnamdi

    Hi Nick,

    Easily mispelled, but it is Nnamdi, not Nnmandi.

    I doubt that the answer for non-students is that different than what the student research shows.

    Typical use of social networks at the moment is based around 1) discovering information about people 2) communicating in a lightweight manner 3) sharing media and 4) maintaining a social peripheral vision of sorts.

    If your questioning is driven by the issue of social network sustainability, then Fred Stutzman’s writings will likely be well worth your time.

    Start here:
    http://chimprawk.blogspot.com/2007/11/social-network-transitions.html

  • Nnamdi

    Hi Nick,

    Easily mispelled, but it is Nnamdi, not Nnmandi.

    I doubt that the answer for non-students is that different than what the student research shows.

    Typical use of social networks at the moment is based around 1) discovering information about people 2) communicating in a lightweight manner 3) sharing media and 4) maintaining a social peripheral vision of sorts.

    If your questioning is driven by the issue of social network sustainability, then Fred Stutzman’s writings will likely be well worth your time.

    Start here:
    http://chimprawk.blogspot.com/2007/11/social-network-transitions.html

  • nic

    Thanks Nnamdi – mistake corrected. Fred Stutzman’s blog is great as well.

  • nic

    Thanks Nnamdi – mistake corrected. Fred Stutzman’s blog is great as well.