Facebook Research: A Scientometric Assessment of Global Publications, 2005-14.

Author:Gupta, B.M.
  1. Introduction

    Social networks have taken over our lives; that they are playing significant role in shaping the dynamics of social interaction online and improving our life experience on the internet. The popularity of social networks is mainly attributed to the new ways that they offer for social collaboration, community building, participation and sharing information in virtual space. Facebook is the largest most popular social networking site on the internet and mobile services commanding close to 7 million visitors per month, twice as many visitors as Twitter and Linkedin put together command. Mark Zuckerberg created it (then called "Thefacebook") just when he was in his dorm room at Harvard University (Markoff, 2007). Within 1 month of its creation, half of the Harvard student population had signed up (Phillips, 2007). Facebook quickly expanded the list of its approved networks, allowing Facebook to reach a wider range of users. By 2005, Facebook allowed access to over 800 college and university networks as well as high-school networks (Arrington, 2005). In 2006, Facebook continued to expand its network base, allowing access to over 22,000 commercial organization networks (Zywica & Danowski, 2008). Its last major network expansion occurred in 2006, which allowed access to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid e-mail address. The rapid expansion of approved networks was followed by a dramatic rise in user growth. Even with such an incredible success, the growth of Facebook shows little sign of abating. By expanding globally as well as attracting a wider range of age groups, Facebook has been able to continue to maintain its rapid growth. Facebook originated in the United States, but more than 80% of current Facebook users now live outside the United States. Majority of new growth is occurring internationally, with Facebook available in over 70 languages. Facebook has 936 million daily active users on an average for March 2015, 798 million mobile daily active users on an average for March 2015, 1.44 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2015, 1.25 billion mobile monthly active users as of March 31, 2015. Approximately 82.8% of our daily active users are outside the US and Canada. (Facebook, 2015) As Facebook continues to grow around the world, language is becoming an increasingly important factor for marketers striving to reach their local and global audience. The social network is highly localized and is currently available in over 70 languages [1-5]

    Since its creation in February 2004, Facebook has become a spectacular success by creating a massive new domain in which millions of social interactions are played out every day. This burgeoning new sphere of social behavior is inherently fascinating, but it also provides scholars with an unprecedented opportunity to observe behavior in a naturalistic setting, test hypotheses in a novel domain, and recruit participants efficiently from many countries and demographic groups [6-7]. There are many reasons for relevance of Facebook as a topic for research to research scholars. Activities registered on Facebook (e.g., connecting to others, expressing preferences, providing status updates) leave a wealth of concrete, observable data, with potential to provide many opportunities for studying human behavior previously that were difficult to assess (e.g., making friends, chatting). Social scientists are sometimes accused of failing to examine actual behavior, relying instead on hypothetical or retrospective self-reports of behavior [8-9].

    Facebook became popular because of social factors, such as the rapid uptake of social media by younger age groups; economic factors such as the increasing affordability of computers and software, and growing commercial interest in social media sites. Facebook can be used anywhere, at any time, where an Internet connection is available. Facebook being popular across a broad spectrum of demographic groups and in many different countries, it has the potential to offer a unique source of information about human behavior with levels of ecological validity that are hard to match in most common research settings. Facebook and other online social networks are interesting topics to social scientists. This is because in addition to reflecting existing social processes, they also spawn new ones by changing the way hundreds of millions of people relate to one another and share information. Also the rise of online social networks brings both new benefits and dangers to society, which warrants careful consideration. The benefits associated with Facebook, such as the strengthening of social ties, are tempered by concerns about privacy and information disclosure [7]. As Facebook becomes increasingly integrated into everyday life, it becomes necessary to monitor and examine the platform's positive and negative impacts on society.

    Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines--ranging from law, economics, sociology, and psychology, to information technology, management, marketing, and computer-mediated communication--have recognized the importance of Facebook as a topic for research [7].

    It was observed that much of research studies undertaken on Facebook covered issues relating to politics, political process, social movements and business performance. Of the business issues, marketing, organizational performance and efficacy, brand management, and consumer behavior were found to be popular Facebook research topics. Because of their distinct disciplinary affiliations and research goals, research scholars had followed largely independent paths in understanding Facebook research issues and published their findings in a broad range of national and international journals and conference proceedings. Though each discipline-bound study was indeed interesting and valuable in its own right but these studies sough to provide only a narrow view of what is known about Facebook. Besides, online social networks varied dramatically in the breadth of their coverage. Some of the articles focused exclusively on Facebook issues, whereas several others covered Facebook in the context of other online social networks [10].

    1.1 Literature Review

    The literature review suggests that only a few studies are currently available on quantitative assessment of literature and that these studies focussed mainly on social media, not on Facebook research per se. Among such available studies, Coursaris, and Van Osch (11) examined 610 global publications on social media covering the period Oct.2004 - Dec.2012 and determined the contribution and citation impact of individuals, institutions and countries. The findings suggest explosion in publication productivity, identification of leading authors, institutions, countries and of a small set of foundational papers. Social media as a domain displays limited diversity but it is heavily influenced by practitioners. Gan and Wang [12] made a bibliometric assessment of 646 global publications in social media research that had appeared in journals under the subject category "Information Science & Library Science" of the Social Science Citation Index. The authors studied distribution of publications output by descriptors, countries, journals, authorships and author keywords and used this distributed data to evaluate research performance and determine research trends. Basak and Calisir [13] made a bibliometric evaluation of the publications (4714) related to Facebook during 2005-13. The annual number of publications increased from 1 in 2005 to 1823 in 2013. The United States was found to be the most productive country and English was the most frequently used language among all publications. Moreover, Computers in Human Behavior was the main distribution channel. Besides, engineering, business and economics, and education were the top three most popular research areas.

    The literature review on the application of Facebook to different subject fields presented below underlines that the view that many of these studies were focused more on content analysis as a means for trend monitoring in Facebook research. The review highlights the view that not even a single study had so far appeared on bibliometric analysis of Facebook research.

    Wilson, Gosling and Graham [7] reviewed 412 articles on application of Facebook research to social sciences, sorted them into 5 categories: descriptive analysis of users, motivations for using Facebook, identity presentation, the role of Facebook in social interactions, and privacy and information disclosure. Caers, Couck, Stough, Vigna and Dt Bois [14] reviewed articles on Facebook research during 2006-12. They pointed out how many of the articles suffer from limited scope (in terms of small sample size as well as in the number of...

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