Zoning laws: Facebook and Google+

Adam Ruch, Steve Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Downloads (Pure)


As the single most successful social-networking Website to date, Facebook has caused a shift in both practice and perception of online socialisation, and its relationship to the offline world. While not the first online social networking service, Facebook’s user base dwarfs its nearest competitors. Mark Zuckerberg’s creation boasts more than 750 million users (Facebook). The currently ailing MySpace claimed a ceiling of 100 million users in 2006 (Cashmore). Further, the accuracy of this number has been contested due to a high proportion of fake or inactive accounts. Facebook by contrast, claims 50% of its user base logs in at least once a day (Facebook). The popular and mainstream uptake of Facebook has shifted social use of the Internet from various and fragmented niche groups towards a common hub or portal around which much everyday Internet use is centred. The implications are many, but this paper will focus on the progress what Mimi Marinucci terms the “Facebook effect” (70) and the evolution of lists as a filtering mechanism representing one’s social zones within Facebook. This is in part inspired by the launch of Google’s new social networking service Google+ which includes “circles” as a fundamental design feature for sorting contacts. Circles are an acknowledgement of the shortcomings of a single, unified friends list that defines the Facebook experience. These lists and circles are both manifestations of the same essential concept: our social lives are, in fact, divided into various zones not defined by an online/offline dichotomy, by fantasy role-play, deviant sexual practices, or other marginal or minority interests. What the lists and circles demonstrate is that even very common, mainstream people occupy different roles in everyday life, and that to be effective social tools, social networking sites must grant users control over their various identities and over who knows what about them. Even so, the very nature of computer-based social tools lead to problematic definitions of identities and relationships using discreet terms, in contrast to more fluid, performative constructions of an individual and their relations to others.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalM/C journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright The Author/s. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author and the publisher. For further reproduction rights please contact the publisher at http://www.media-culture.org.au/


Dive into the research topics of 'Zoning laws: Facebook and Google+'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this