Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet
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Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet

Edited by Ian Brown

The internet is now a key part of everyday life across the developed world, and growing rapidly across developing countries. This Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the latest research on internet governance, written by the leading scholars in the field.
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Chapter 13: Privacy, law, code and social networking sites

Lilian Edwards


Giving the public details about oneself is a bourgeois temptation I have always resisted. Gustave Flaubert. Times have changed somewhat since Flaubert wrote these words just before his death in 1880. Nowadays self-disclosure is not only socially acceptable, but also big business. The social networking boom has been going on for nearly a decade, a long time in internet history, with no sign of bust yet in sight. Facebook, created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, and perhaps the most iconic site in this field, reached, to media frenzy, 500 million users in 2010 – equivalent in “population” to the third biggest country in the world, with growth to one billion achieved in October 2012. Half these users, Facebook claims, log on every other day and spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. Facebook and other SNSs have stolen time (and advertising) from other better established entertainment media. A survey in the UK in April 2011 showed UK users spending two hours per day watching TV as opposed to two and a half hours on Facebook.

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