Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Social Networking Site Continuance: The Paradox of Negative Consequences and Positive Growth

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Social Networking Site Continuance: The Paradox of Negative Consequences and Positive Growth

Article excerpt


According to the informing science framework put forth by Cohen (2009), an Informing System is composed of three elements: the informing environment, the delivery system, and the task-completion system. The current study investigates the informing environment of SNS users, where the delivery system includes online social media tools that facilitate the task-completion activities of sharing personal information and interacting with contacts while extending one's personal network. Of interest to transdisciplinary research are the sometimes unintended consequences of using an SNS informing sys tem and the effect of those consequences on satisfaction and continuance intention of SNS users.

The growth of various social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter offers informers an easy and efficient delivery system for informing clients through a diverse set of informing channels such as personal profiles, newsfeeds, chat, and sharing of media including pictures, audio and video. The ability of SNS users to post user-generated content allows the informer and the client to adopt interchangeably each role as the information is either shared by the informer or received by the client. As Birdsall (2009) noted, the missing component of the informing science framework is the right of the client not only to be informed but also to inform. Thus, the informer and the client are engaged in a collaborative effort in creating the online informing system of an SNS.

This simultaneous sharing and receiving of information has led to a growth in social networking sites. These sites offer a "free and immensely powerful set of communication and collaboration tools to everyone of Earth who has access to a broadband internet connection" ("Towards a socialized state," 2010). Of interest is the tremendous growth for some of those sites, while others have seen their user base dwindle or even disappear. The digital marketing intelligence group comScore reported that in the month of April 2009 social networking sites experienced record growth in the US with an increase of 12% usage, or nearly 140 million users in that month alone, with MySpace having 71 million US visitors followed by Facebook with 67 million visitors (comScore, 2009). However, while the two SNSs were relatively close in terms of numbers at that point in time, Facebook continued to surge in popularity while MySpace experienced a steady decline in members.

Facebook began in 2004 with one million users by the end of its first year and grew to five million users by the end of its second year (Facebook Company Info, 2005). Facebook continued to experience a surge in growth reaching over half a billion users by 2010 and 845 million users by 2011 (Facebook Company Info, 2011). MySpace experienced similar extraordinary growth initially, from one million members in January 2004 to over 5 million by the end of their first year, and over 100 million users by March 2007 (TechCrunch, n.d.). Originally developed to attract disgruntled Friendster users, MySpace grew rapidly in large part due to independent bands working to connect with their fans, largely a younger crowd (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Boyd and Ellison (2007) reported that Friendster itself was an SNS that experienced strong growth initially, but then failed to keep up with the demand placed on its servers and databases. Ultimately user preferences were not met, thus Friendster lost its foothold in the U.S. The authors note that "because organic growth had been critical to creating a coherent community, the onslaught of new users who learned about the site from media coverage upset the cultural balance" (Boyd & Ellison, 2007, p. 214).

Just as Friendster gained then lost, MySpace also experienced rapid declines in its user base, laying off almost one-third of its employees in 2009 (Arango, 2009) and another 47% of the remaining employees in January 2011 (Arango, 2011). …

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