Facebook: Between freedom and coercion – A study on social impact of online groups

Mesut Akbulut, Nina Blumenthal, Bettina Dalberg, Bianka Ofenloch

Since the usage of Facebook has increased above average, many organizations and companies have started to display their networks online. These Facebook-groups serve as contact and information exchange, which customers and employees use to socialize online. The communication networks become more compact, so the companies make the online-group mandatory for their employees. These groups enable their members countless advantages, such as socializing, exchange shifts amongst each other.

The assumption with which the Internet campaigned in it'€™s beginning, were among others autonomy and anonymity. But in the virtual world of these groups those assumptions are endangered of becoming obsolete. By posting messages and participating in group-discussions the members become visible and vulnerable for others. One could suspect that their „social” face is swayed.

In the center of our analysis is the participation in these groups. Our research referrers primarily to the social control and the negative or positive affect that result from it. To what extend do the Facebook-users experience a positive or negative impact on their life through participating in a group? Are they excluded from a group or are they accepted? The possible distinction would be a legitimate counter-argument to the assumptions about Facebook.

By using network analysis we investigating group relationships within two online-groups, as well as the impact of the membership on the lives of the Facebook-users. The data will be captured with an online-survey.