Social networking sites are online communities in which members can interact in a number of ways. Full‐featured communities offer the ability to share a personal profile, initiate contacts with “friends,” form groups of members with similar interests, contact group members directly, engage in discussions, share media or photos, and discover other common connections through ones’ contacts. Some social networking sites allow members to create interactive software that functions within the community.
Others allow institutions or companies to maintain profiles or pages. The sites may be focused on a specialized interest or may be more general in nature. While social networking sites are often used for recreation, they can also serve as a means of communicating about academic or professional interests.
Examples: Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, tumblr, Twitter
To evaluate the content on a social networking site, look for these clues:
- The identity of the source of shared information can be verified. This can be done by examining the profile page if made public, verifying the named source of the information, and so on.
- Information on the profile page of the individual, institution, company, or library can be verified.
- The individual, institution, etc. contributing information has expertise on the topic.
- Information picked up in a social network receives favorable comments, can be externally verified, or meets your needs.
- The institutions or companies offering community‐based applications can be identified. You can also check for reviews of the application or see if any of your “friends” are using it.