Facebook as a New Layer of the Internet

Paul Levinson lists Facebook, along with the blogosphere, Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace, Digg and Twitter, as a new “new medium”. There is no doubt that that is true, but only part of a whole truth. From a technical point of view the Internet consists of few layers, starting from the layer of physical medium as cables and routers, ending with the application layer, that let us chat, read emails or view internet sites. Global popularity of Facebook giving an easy way not only to share content, but also to integrate external sites with it brought nowadays a new layer of the global network about — a meta-application layer. After Microsoft, Apple, and Google, the company makes a following element in the chain of commercial agents that gradually formed the way we use computer mediated communication today. This “facebookisation” of the Internet has several cultural ramifications, some of which I would like to examine in my paper. One of them could be a claim that it finally put into practice the idea of Web 2.0 and spread it into masses. Even though such technical possibilities existed already for a long time, it has never been so easy to create someone's own site (in a form of fan-page) or just embed a discussion forum provided by Facebook at an external site. Facebook provided easy tools to create a secondary social net over primary net of WWW. In Henry Jenkins' terms one could utter that the threshold of participation has finally gotten low enough. Therefore almost all currently created internet sites make part of truly interactive network of Web 2.0, allowing for fully bilateral communication. One of the consequences of the latter happened to be something we could call an “eruption of privacy”, an avalanche of passport-like photos accompanied by names and surnames and other personal data, a genuine great book of faces, a census. This fact alone has a lot of exciting effects, I'd deeper get into two of them. The first one could express sententiously: if you are not public, you are not reliable. It's much more that fifteen minutes of fame promised by Andy Warhol: it's an informal obligation to be present with your true name and surname somewhere in the Net. Otherwise, one's possible future employer or collaborator can perceive you as unsociable and alienated person at best and as fake personality at worst. Welcome to the brave new world, where everyone is to play a role of a celebrity and her own paparazzi in the same time. The second one, paradoxically enough, is that the principle “Make it all public!”, imposed by a big companies, gives a powerful arm to fight with big companies. Since everything and everyone must be on Facebook, that from its essence yields two-sided, symmetrical communication channels, every user can speak with a big company and the company spokesman has no choice but to answer it in a proper way.
Krzysztof Gajewski, Facebook as a New Layer of the Internet, w: Ten Years of Facebook. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Argumentation and Rhetoric, red. G. Horváth, R. K. Bakó, É. Biró-Kaszás, Oradea 2014
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