The heavy burden of social networks present trends

One again we look towards Facebook to show a few examples of how social networks are generating a new outlook towards content and privacy with a cost. The ability for users to take charge of their own profile is one of the most important aspect that Facebook has emphasized on in its services. The general notion is to allow users to have total control over the type of audiences they want, ranging from public to selected friends where only chosen friends can see their updates.

What You See?

News Feed — Users are able to select whose news feed to keep track with by adding the person of interest in either the Close Friends list or the “Follow” option. Regularly receiving news feed is optional and can be undone at any time.

Adverts –The “Manage Ad Preferences” option on Facebook allows users to filter redundant adverts. However, some ads that are popular cannot be removed through this option. Therefore, “Hide all from this advertiser” option specifies which advertiser to completely block. This will help Facebook determine the preferable areas of advertisements.

What Others See?

Posts –A permanent custom list can be created to allow for an easier and faster audience option for posts. Posts can be deleted or hidden in Facebook depending on the user’s preference. The activity log helps keep check of the history of posts that have been added to Facebook whether it be deleted, hidden or available.

Profile — An option called View As lets users see their profile as selected audience. This gives users a chance to actually be content aware of their profile to better manage their activity feed.

Search –The public profile shows basic information of the person that they have searched for such as username, gender, profile picture and so on. The only content that the anonymous person cannot look for are posts, photos and friends list.

Tagging — Tagging can be done anywhere with the tagging key “@”. The tag creates a short-cut link to the Facebook URL for fast reference to his/her profile. When a tag is done in a comment/post, the tag appears in the form of the tagged person’s name. If tagging is done on a photo, the tag can be placed anywhere within the photo in the form of a box with the person’s name. Tags can also be removed by the person tagged themselves.

Account Deactivation and Deletion — Deactivating differs from deletion in a sense that it only suspends the user’s activity. Most things that have been shared on the account will be removed like photos and posts except for chat messages and the user’s name in their friends list. Deletion results in the permanent account removal.

How is the Interaction?

Timeline — Timeline is the user’s home page that both users and their friends can post on. These posts can be reviewed before allowing it to appear in Timeline.

Unfriending and blocking — Blocking is to excommunicate the person on Facebook. Unfriend hides the information of both parties unless the news feed is posted as public.

All these implementations comes with a heavy cost not only towards Facebook but all social networks in general. The one drawback of using client-server architecture is the scaling problems involved with huge number of users. The site not only has to have the capability of dealing and serving billions of requests every second but also handle computations for customized pages. So, how are these problems handled ? We have the review in the following posts:


Facebook. (2014). Privacy Basics. Available: Last accessed 19th November 2014.

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