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             Volume 10 |Issue 33 | August 26, 2011 |


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Multiple Personalities of Facebook


Social networking websites have become an integral part of life today. Almost everyone you know will have a profile on some site or the other. Infact, when you meet people nowadays, it has become common practice to ask them if they're on this site or that so you can further your acquaintance by keeping in touch the quick and easy way. One such website, perhaps the most popular one today, is facebook- a household name among people all over the world.

Founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes in 2004, facebook had started off as a photo directory for the students of Harvard University. It now has over 750 million users- anyone over the age of 13, scattered in almost every part of the globe. While many of these users will tell you their primary purpose of using facebook so enthusiastically has been to keep in touch with old friends, make new friends and be a part of new networks, this remarkable site has many more dimensions to it.

Facebook currently has over 900 million objects that people interact with, including pages, groups, communities etc. “I had started using facebook because it seemed like a fun way to keep in touch with my friends and family,” says Nudrat Haque, who is a regular facebook user. “But now I have discovered that it has other uses, for example, I used it to invite all my friends to my wedding. All I had to do was click a few buttons to create an event's page, put the venue, time and date on it, and choose who to invite..it saved me a lot of money since I didn't have to get invitation cards made for atleast 200 people!”

Event pages can be made for any number of occasions, ranging from parties, concerts, corporate events, social demonstrations, to prayer groups, sales and funerals. It is possible for the guests invited to RSVP immediately and also in some instances, book their tickets if needed. This tool is extremely popular with event management companies who can publicise their events free of cost.

Facebook is also used to raise social awareness on a variety of issues. For example, human rights organisations are creating pages to demand justice for individuals whose rights have been grossly violated and who the justice system has failed to protect. Once a page is created, people are invited to share their opinions on the event wall, which then becomes an open forum for discussion. “I found out about Rumana Monzur's story on facebook,” says Adita Raihan, “I went to the demonstration they held for her at Shaheed Minar after I got the invitation online.”

Sometimes petitions are made for a number of causes other than demands for justice, such as road repairs, traffic control, energy conservation- you name it. Many news organisations, post links to their websites on facebook to make people conscious of what is going on in the world. “Since many youngsters are almost addicted to facebook, this is a good way to educate them and make them aware of their surroundings,” says school teacher Rubana Sayeed, “I always encourage my students to look at the news items posted on facebook rather than spend hours looking at photographs and playing games.”

This website is also a tool used to get donations for many philanthropic causes. Pages are created to ask for old clothes, money, and food for the needy or victims of natural disasters.

Another very interesting use facebook is being put to, is crime detection. In many countries, India being an example, law enforcement agencies are posting photographs of their most wanted criminals in hope that the users will be able to identify and report their whereabouts. “I personally think this is a brilliant idea,” says Najmul Huda, an avid facebook user, “Everyone uses facebook today and this will also instill fear in criminals, knowing there are eyes everywhere looking for them. Bangladesh should adopt this practice..I am sure it will help reduce the crime rate.”

“Recently I have heard of many incidents of robbery where the perpetrators are kids from wealthy backgrounds, addicted to drugs, who drive off with peoples' purses” says Amina Hossain (not her real name), “ If their pictures are taken or more realistically, if their license plate number is posted on facebook, I think it will be very easy to catch them and put them behind bars.”

This remarkable website is also a treasure trove of useful information. Want to know more about a movie you're planning to watch? Looking for new music to listen to? Form a fan club and post information about your favourite sport/team? Learn more about the benefits of yoga /pilates/aerobics? Just click the search button on facebook at it's all there waiting to be discovered.

This site can also assist you in day to day things such as finding an apartment in a new city you have moved to, finding a roommate, selling a couch, buying a microwave- you name it and the facebook marketplace is bound to have a post about it. “I found out all about different universities from facebook,” says Anisa Jahan, “Talking to students who are already enrolled in these different universities helped me decide. Facebook helped me interact with them easily.”

Nowadays oragnisations where you apply for jobs may have access to information about you on facebook, which helps them, determine whether you are a good fit for them so if you have anything you don't want them to know…. you should get to work on your privacy settings.

Ofcourse stalking people (especially your exes), staring mindlessly at peoples' photos, taking care of your virtual pet, playing games (there are over a thousand to choose from), chatting with friends and random strangers, cannot be left out from the list of uses facebook cant be put to, but these are just a few of the many aspects of this extraordinary site which has become an important part of so many lives. Many similar ones are popping up and trying to compete, but facebook users have remained loyal to date. So the next time anyone calls you a facebook addict don't feel bad, it may not be such a bad thing after all!



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