Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

Facebook Check-In Places in European Union States between Socialization and the Management of Social Reputation

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

Facebook Check-In Places in European Union States between Socialization and the Management of Social Reputation

Article excerpt

1. Facebook - A Tool of Socialization and Management of Social Reputation in the European Community

The true internet and mass communication revolution in the New Media took place at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium when Web 1.0 moved on to a new stage of its evolution, Web 2.0. This step meant, as far as Horia Mihai Bädäu is concerned, a liberation from the "oppression of technology" (Bädäu, 2011: 25). More than this, Web 2.0 was nicknamed "the user's internet," with a new mass communication model being developed, one characterized by a high degree of interaction between transmitter(s) and the online public.

Facebook is part of the Social Media category. In one sense, Facebook is a "free online social network which allows its registered users to create personal profiles, to upload photographs and video clips, to send messages and to interact with friends, family and colleagues" (Rouse, 2009). In another sense, the current online social networks are ''the online communication platforms which are using software tools functions like the natural social networks based on direct interpersonal contact" (Ciçmaru, 2012, 42). According to the company Facebook (http://www.facebook. com/facebook#!/facebook?sk=info), the networks offer the promise of an open and interconnected world, where the users can share their life experiences and interests.

The Facebook social network was created on February the 4th 2004, and now has 906.895.580 members from 213 countries (www.socialbakers.com, 28 August, 2012).

The social network Facebook has grown fast in recent years regarding users in the European Community. In 2012, the number of Facebook users in Europe reached 232,743,300, resulting in a penetration rate of 28.68% of the social networks among European population, whether online or offline.

Worldwide, Europe ranks first in terms of number of users, but the penetration rate ranks fourth among the population, being surpassed by the North America (42.16%), Australia and Oceania (39.58%) and South America (32%).

Facebook allows users to specify the places where they took photos in the past, being able to mention the names of restaurants, parks, etc. Through the halo effect, the individual is associated with the brand organization or place where the records using Facebook via the check-in, thus increasing its capital social image or reputation. Facebook allows people to provide information not only about where they actually are, but also about where their pictures were taken in the past or what they are wishing to visit in the future. Also, the GPS built in smart phones or laptops allows users to select location from a broader list of targets in the vicinity, some of whom may select a place even if they are not there.

By this method, the users made known their social activities, groups of friends with whom they spend their free time by sending indirect messages about their social status and about self-esteem.

Social media is not just a channel through which people socialize but also a powerful online tool for promoting the image of an individual, an institution or a product.

Just as the EU Member States before accession, shall regulate the rights and obligations provided in the common acquis communautaire, in the same way the extra-European company Facebook has to adapt at EU legislation to operate in joint space.

On this issue, the American company Facebook faced problems in the European Union. One of them consisted of photo facial recognition service, which could violate the privacy protection. Hamburg Data Protection Agency issued a letter to Facebook, which claims that social network users should seek consent before allowing their recognition using biometrics, it said in a story published on the website of the Romanian TV Channel 'Antena 3'. The facial recognition system, implemented in the United States in December 2010, is used to recognize people in photos that are uploaded by the users of Facebook. …

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