THE AGE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS: CHANGES IN THE INFORMATION FIELD
Expert, Center for Information Studies, “Noravank” Foundation
The prevalence of social networks on the Internet and in the media space in general causes even more drastic changes of the information environment. If previously the search engines prevailed on the World Wide Web, currently the weight of the social networks is growing.
Increasing of the role of the social networks causes the changes in the psychology of the information dissemination on the web. Just a couple of years ago there were several sources of information, including banners, links to the websites sent by friends, issue-related forums, advertising links. But the search engines, with the help of which an average user found information on the Internet, were the cornerstone.
The volume growth of the information, a huge and constantly increasing amount of the information sources made creation of the search engines a necessity. For less known sites the search engines were the only sources to get incoming traffic. The beginning of the age of the social networks demonstrated that there are also profound changes taking place in search of sources of information. A huge number of users stopped using search engines while looking for urgent information, i.e. the information issued by the media. If we consider online mass media we will see that the main struggle for influence there is taking place between search engines and social networks.
Among well-known mass media, for obvious reasons, big number of users is regular readers and they do not need mediators for going to the website. At the same time social networks are becoming even more serious factor in attracting readers. (In Diagram 1 you can see why the main global search engine Google lost its ground among the audience of German periodicals last year, while the influence of Facebook social network, just the contrary, essentially increased).
Diagram 1. Percentage of incoming traffic from Facebook and Google to the websites of German periodicals in June 2010 and 2011.
Source “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.
The setback of the influence of the search engines and the upsurge of the role of the social networks are connected with both general tendencies of development of the web and coming forward of several platforms which take almost monopolistic position among the users.
The most essential position is occupied by Facebook. According to the data for October 2011 there are about 800 million active users and almost a half of them everyday enter the web site1. Taking into consideration the fact that there are about 2 billion users, it turns out that, to some extent Facebook controls almost 1/3 of the Internet users. (If we do not take into account users from China (more than 500 million people) where Facebook is prohibited the influence of this social network becomes even more tangible). And the number of Facebook users is still rising (see Table 2).
Diagram 2. Growth of the number of Facebook users in the period from December 2004 to September 2011.
Correspondingly, the incoming traffic from Facebook to media-sites also grows. Diagram 3 shows how the incoming traffic from that social network to newspaper grows in Great Britain, Germany and Turkey.
The psychology of the user is changing. If previously the users should have demonstrated activity, browsed search engines or read thematic forums to find fresh news, today most of the users have taken up a role of passive receivers of information which is received through the social networks. Average user does not search information: he trusts the minority which is simultaneously a user of social networks and active searcher of fresh information. Correspondingly, the significance of the users who are capable of finding and disseminating information is rising. So, if in case with the search engines we deal with mathematical algorithm of finding information on the Internet and classifying it, in case with the social networks a human factor is put in the forefront; it becomes more important who and what kind of information receives. In fact the substitution of the web elites is taking place. A small number of search means, which are based on the mathematical algorithm, is substituted by social networks’ activists. At the same time it is worth mentioning that this tendency is rather related to the news stream than to the main information which is still being searched by means of search engines.1 https://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
Another materials of author
- DATA PROTECTION ISSUES IN ARMENIA[25.03.2013]
- AZERBAIJANI SOCIAL MEDIA[21.01.2013]
- SOCIAL NETWORKS IN ARMENIA[24.12.2012]
- HACKER ATTACKS AGAINST ARMENIAN SEGMENT OF THE WEB: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS[01.10.2012]
- DEVELOPMENTS OF ARMENIA’S SEGMENTS OF THE INTERNET[30.07.2012]
- THE IMAGE OF THE INTERNET USER IN ARMENIA[17.05.2012]
- ARMENIA IS BECOMING VULNERABLE TO CYBER-ATTACKS[30.01.2012]
- MOBILE CIVIL JOURNALISM: OPPORTUNITIES AND PROBLEMS[19.09.2011]
- SOCIAL NETWORKS IN THE ARMENIAN SEGMENT OF THE INTERNET[10.05.2011]
- REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS IN ARAB WORLD AND ACCOMPANYING INFORMATION FLOWS[07.04.2011]