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Opting Into Information Flows: Partial Information Control on Facebook
Unformatted Document Text:  As a result of this popularity, more and more people, and numbers which approach saturation in the realm of undergraduates, are visiting Facebook on a regular basis. This traffic, when combined with certain features of the website discussed below, suggest that Facebook now represents a potential secondary source of information for its users. Additionally, we know that more and more people are using the Internet to keep up with current events and politics. 46 % of voters went online in the 2008 primaries to seek information about the political campaigns, and over a third of young people sought such information specifically in the realm of a social networking site (Pew 2008). Thus this study seeks to extend our understanding of the realm of political information online by examining to what extent exposure to political information is taking place within the realm of Facebook, among whom, and to what effect. Some Background on Facebook Facebook is an online social networking site utilized by many young people, and increas- ingly used by a broader spectrum of the population (over a third of Facebook users are over 35, according to technocrunch.com). The basic goal of the site is to allow people who know each other in life to find and inform one another about their lives, interests, and everyday activities. The primary means by which this is done is essentially the Facebook homepage. On the startup page after logging in, users encounter a function known as the Newsfeed, which displays the various goings on of all the user’s Facebook friends. These may include the joining of groups, attending of events, adding of new interests and activities, posting of notes, pictures, news stories, and web sites, and use of various other Facebook applications, including both those built into the site and those which users can choose to “opt into.” Whenever anyone in one’s self-selected network of friends on Facebook engages in any of these or various other activities too numerous to chronicle, a brief summary of the action as Opting into Information Flows 4

Authors: Bode, Leticia.
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As a result of this popularity, more and more people, and numbers which approach
saturation in the realm of undergraduates, are visiting Facebook on a regular basis. This
traffic, when combined with certain features of the website discussed below, suggest that
Facebook now represents a potential secondary source of information for its users.
Additionally, we know that more and more people are using the Internet to keep up
with current events and politics. 46 % of voters went online in the 2008 primaries to seek
information about the political campaigns, and over a third of young people sought such
information specifically in the realm of a social networking site (Pew 2008).
Thus this study seeks to extend our understanding of the realm of political information
online by examining to what extent exposure to political information is taking place within
the realm of Facebook, among whom, and to what effect.
Some Background on Facebook
Facebook is an online social networking site utilized by many young people, and increas-
ingly used by a broader spectrum of the population (over a third of Facebook users are over
35, according to technocrunch.com). The basic goal of the site is to allow people who know
each other in life to find and inform one another about their lives, interests, and everyday
activities.
The primary means by which this is done is essentially the Facebook homepage. On
the startup page after logging in, users encounter a function known as the Newsfeed, which
displays the various goings on of all the user’s Facebook friends. These may include the
joining of groups, attending of events, adding of new interests and activities, posting of
notes, pictures, news stories, and web sites, and use of various other Facebook applications,
including both those built into the site and those which users can choose to “opt into.”
Whenever anyone in one’s self-selected network of friends on Facebook engages in any of
these or various other activities too numerous to chronicle, a brief summary of the action as
Opting into Information Flows 4


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