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Slides from public talks October 29, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Facebook, Science communication, Social network sites, Talks, Youth Culture.
8 comments

Yesterday I gave four public talks in Aalborg under the headline “Facebook and the digital youth culture” (all talks in Danish, though). During the day I talked at three different high schools and the last talk was in the evening at Studenterhuset. Since many of the attendants asked for my slides I will provide them here:

They will probably only make sense to the people who attended the talks, since the integrated links with examples, definitions, pictures etc. don’t work in slideshare. Also, I have cut out some of the pictures out of ethical considerations. BUT I have provided a list of reference to both my own and other researchers’ publications, where those interested can read more.

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Dating site integrated into social network site September 2, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Dating, Social network sites.
81 comments

As regular followers of this blog will know, my main ‘field site’ has for many years been the Danish social network site Arto.com. For a long time Arto was the most popular SNS in Denmark with a huge group of core users between the age of 12 and 17. Now, the site is threatened by the major popularity of Facebook and according to a recent report from ‘Digital view’ Arto has shrunk to a third of its size during the past year – with an increase in especially 15-19 year old users.

Perhaps this is the reason why Arto has made a lot of changes lately and now seems to be targeting a much more broad (and international) audience.  One of the most recent initiatives is a dating section, where users can show an immediate interest in each other by clicking through a list of profile pictures (based on their own criteria) and state whether they are “Interested” or “Not interested”. The system works like a matchmaking feature; if two users have both shown an interest in each other there is a match:

I am interested in whether this will change the social networking part of the site. Anyway, I find it interesting that my profile (which I keep for research related reasons) was automatically integrated into the dating section. This means that other users, who have set their search criteria with my age and gender, will be able to show a romantic interest in me, even though I am not interested in dating… So far, it doesn’t seem that users can edit their settings to prevent this.

I am wondering if we will see more dating sites and social network sites merging in the years to come? I know that Danish MySpace users can use their user name to sign into Match.com, but in general, are people interested in having their SNS profile merge with their dating profile?

Online predators and moral panics June 11, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Internet Safety, Moral panic, MySpace, News media.
7 comments

The past couple of weeks the Danish social network site for teenagers, Arto, has repeatedly appeared in the news media. This is due to the fact that a journalist from the Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet created a false profile on Arto where she pretended to be a 13 year old girl and got into contact with a number of older men. During a year the undercover journalist communicated through MSN Messenger with four older men (from the age of 35 – 72) who all had a keen interest in meeting the girl IRL. The correspondence between the men and the apparent 13 year old girl had many sexual undertones and some of the men openly indicated that they wanted to have sex with, what they believed was, the 13 year old girl.

When the physical meetings were finally arranged the news paper revealed the truth and the following days they published a number of articles where they – one by one and with video documentation – exposed the men as predators and child molesters.

We have previously seen similar stories in the Danish news media, and the purpose of this blog post is not to comment on these specific news stories, which are part of the ongoing moral panic, which I commented on in an article I wrote in October 2006. However, the public debate that follows sensational cases like these is interesting. (more…)

Idols and YouTube combined in SNS December 11, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Social Networking.
2 comments

Arto recently launched “Arto Idol” as part of their social network site. Here the users can participate in an online talent show (similar to “Scenen er din”, “American Idol” or “Britain’s Got Talent”) within six categories. Each month the site will elect the 10 best participants in the competition.

It is possible for the users to comment on each other’s videos – very much similar to YouTube. What strikes me so far is that the users comment really positively on each other’s videos. This is similar to the positive and loving atmosphere that can be found in their use of the picture galleries or in their profile texts (as I have written about in this article). I will definitely keep an eye on this new initiative. Does anyone know of something similar in other countries?

Check out Arto Idol here.

Anti-social networking October 27, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Facebook, Friendship, Social networking sites.
7 comments

What does it mean to be a friend online? As I have pointed out in an earlier blog post and as I stressed during my AoIR-presentation last week, the concept of friendship has changed. Young people do call their contacts on social networking sites ‘friends’ (or at least Danish youngsters do) – even though the majority of their online relationships or the hundreds of people on their friend lists more resemble acquaintances. This, of course, has to do with the fact that social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Arto use the metaphor of ‘friending’.

Because of the possibility to ‘friend’ every Tom, Dick and Harry it has been suggested that a new trend on anti-social networking is seeing the light of day. My friend Anders Olsen just pointed me towards an article from LabConfidential that mentions an emerging resistance against the concept of friendship on online social networking sites. The Danish article refers to this article from The Boston Globe on anti-social networks on Facebook etc. The article reads:

Now that Internet users have forged online relationships with the people they like, they can turn their attention to shaming the folks they hate.

With Enemybook, a new program that runs on the social networking site Facebook, you can connect to people you loathe, display their photos and evil deeds, and give them the virtual finger.

Enemybook is one of several new online applications developed by computer-savvy twentysomethings who say they are tired of bogus online friendships. In a dig at the notion of virtual networking, they hope to encourage people to undermine, or at least mock, the online social communities sites such as Facebook were designed to create.

Besides Enemybook the two articles also mention Snubster, Hatebook, IFHY (I Fucking Hate You), NoSo (No Social) and isolatr as anti-social networking sites or applications.

I must admit that I had not heard of half of these sites, but I find the resistance against (the popularity of) online social networking interesting. Does anyone know of any Danish examples? I know that the Danish site Narto (now Narro) started as an opposition to the hugely popular Danish Arto, even though it is not an anti-social networking site per se, but advertises on the front page with the phrase: “If you are too annoying for any other social networking site, then create a profile here – and feel much worse” (my translation from Danish)”. According to the site itself, it has more than 50.000 users (Arto has app. 600.000).

New paper: Love and friendship in the digital room April 30, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Arto, Friendship, Identity, Social Networking, Youth Culture.
4 comments

undgomdsforskning01_07.jpgMy new paper “Kærlighed og venskab på Arto.dk” (“Love and friendship on Arto.dk”) is now available online. The paper is part of the newest issue of the Danish journal “Ungdomsforskning” on young people’s different rooms or spaces. I recommend the other articles in the issue which are all very interesting.

You can download my article here.
Or read the whole issue of “Ungdomsforskning” here.

“I love you” the best message April 15, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Friendship, Social networking sites, Youth Culture.
1 comment so far

I just wanted to share some preliminary findings from the online questionnaires that I am working on with The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. In the questionnaire aimed at children and young people between the age of 12 and 18 we ask them what the best message they have received at a social networking site is.

The majority of the youngsters say that a guest book message with the words “I love you” is the very best message they have ever received. Such messages most often come from close “real life” friends or boy- or girlfriends.

This is very much in accordance with the results from my Arto-study where I identified a strong love discourse between “offline” friends. By the way, I have an article about that very subject coming up in the Danish journal “Ungdomsforskning“. The article is called “Love and friendship at Arto.dk” and I will remember to write a post once it gets out.

Lecture on Social Networking and Virtual Ethnography March 16, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Aalborg University, Academic, Arto, Moral panic, Social Networking, Social networking sites, Virtual Ethnography.
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Today I gave my first “real” lecture as a PhD Student at the University. The students were from 6th semester at Communication Studies and the subject was social networking sites (with Arto as case), moral panic, virtual ethnography and Nexus Analysis.

If you are interested in these subjects you can check out my PowerPoint presentation from the lecture which is available for download here (unfortunately, it is mostly in Danish, but there are many pictures and social networking examples :-)).

The meaning of a friendship? March 9, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Friendship, MySpace, Social Networking, Social networking sites.
15 comments

Concurrently with social networking sites and services becoming increasingly popular the notion of ‘friendship’ is changing.2007-03-07_151952.png Many of the large social networking sites like MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Facebook and Arto are using the friendship metaphor in relation to the contactvenner.jpg lists. This means that the word ‘friendship’ has a new meaning online and rings more hollow than in its original sense.

Even though you have to be accepted as a friend from the other part, it is quite easy to collect many friends (since almost everyone wants a high number of friends). As a result young people often have more than 100 ‘friends’ on their friend lists. Then, what do they do when they want to signal who their actual or ‘real’ friends are? (more…)

Fake your space with fake friends February 28, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Fakers, Friendship, MySpace, Social Networking, Web 2.0, Youth Culture.
5 comments

Last year I read a post on Michael Zimmer’s blog about a new social networking service called Fake Your Space that offers purchase of fake and hot friends for MySpace profiles in order to seem popular. Yesterday the Danish online magazine Computerworld.dk spotted the website and wrote an article about it. Today I was interviewed by the Danish radio P3 (P3 Nyheder) and the newspaper dato about what I think of the service and why friends are so important on social networking sites.fakeyourspace.com

First of all, I think that the profiles the site offers are so clearly fake and model like that other users would probably be sceptical of the users who have bought the fakers and listed them as friends. Also, other people’s friend lists are often used to find new friends. What happens when someone tries to add one of the fakers to their own profile? (more…)