Globalisation and Facebook

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To what extent does Martell’s concept of globalisation apply to Facebook? Facebook has undergone through multiple globalisation processes that have been particular identifiable over the recent decades. Facebook has reached over 800 million users worldwide since 2004 (Fowler 2010), and since then, many forms of corporate investment, multinational advertisement companies, and the endorsement of international political deregulation has shaped and expanded what was first a national based phenomenon to an international/global trend (Sassen 2007).

The internet and particularly Facebook contribute to the way users interact with distant relatives and close friends; everyone knows what each other is doing across the world with a click of a button. With global trends shaping how we interlink with the structures of society, Facebook has been seen to have embedded its self within those structures as a consumerist hotspot.

Its functions not only serve for a social purpose, but the social openness of its users, allows for global advertisement companies to pervade our computer screens which are regulated in the interest of the political economy, global market enterprise, and multinational capital (Cohen 2008). Facebook has therefore, had an influence on how we interact, behave and view the world; increasing diversities in our concept of national identity -realising a more homogenised sense of identity through global trends such as inter-national relations, technology and consumerist culture.

Looking at how much Facebook has converged in its entirety through the processes of global distance, mass inclusive, interdependence, global inclusive-in inputs as well as reach; it also has to be regular and stable for it also to be truly globalised (Martell 2010). However, here we will argue that Facebook is not global in all its processes and discuss to what extent. Not all countries are equal in its distribution. Developing countries are still at the periphery (Sassen 2007), and lack resources to establish the connection, and therefore are vulnerable to Facebook power house.

That Facebook is a continuous trend of westernisation – Even though changes have been made to make Facebook’s use more globally versatile, and relatively culturally constructed, and specific to national and regional based users. For example: changing international homepages to its native language – For the most part, culture that has been transported through Facebook is westernized and fashioned by an Anglo-American consumerist hegemony and regulation; that is the structures of global management and control (Sassen 2008).

According to Zuckerberg “Facebook adds value to peoples lifes” Though who’s values and what type of values is he talking about? As far as global distance is concerned Facebook has reached almost every continent in the world. The decade of globalisation, starting from the 1990’s, has seen the increase of technology and information sharing through social networking. For Rantanen (2005) he calls this the ‘global village’ (Rantanen 2005, cited: Martell 2010).

For instance, the interconnection of friends and family to those abroad makes time and space irrelevant, and therefore the idea of time and space becomes compressed as new information technologies and transportation make it easier for people to share, and interconnect no matter what time of day, or what country they live in (Martell 2010). According to new statistics (Lee, 2012), The percentage of Facebook’s users where predominantly situated in North America at 44. 07%, the south 33. 92%, Europe at 29. 06%, Australia and Oceania at 42. 14% and Asia at just 6. 68%, with low market penetration for Africa at 5. 15%.

This show’s that Facebook may not be referred to as a ‘global village’. However, statistics show that the usage has reached most continents globally. However, there is an uneven distribution of resources. It demonstrates a stratification of wealth. Wealthier countries use Facebook a lot more, and are at the advantage over resources which are driven by the technological impetus, engineered through the power house of capitalism. For example: The sub-Saharan Africa is one of the poorest nations in the world. According to statistics from (UNDIP 2008, Cited: Martell 2010), internet users per 100 inhabitants is at just 5 for Africa.

And South and East Asia at 17, compared to America at 42 per 100 inhabitants. This shows a correlation between the availability of resources and those who can and cannot obtain them. Core countries have a well-established political and economic infrastructure, and therefore, have a better advantage in the availability to use Facebook; its apps and connections. Facebook demonstrates inter-connection globally, though undermines it potential to be global in its input as well as reach, as the obvious uneven ability for some countries to use Facebook are excluded – not included, which is underpinned by an unequal process of resource distribution.

The argument here is thus, Facebook is an extension of Westernization with its inputs, as well as reach, though the inequality of distribution undermines the process of globalization. Facebook has faced some challenges towards growth in its users particularly from China and Russia. China has always been, not so very open to policies of a western nature (Lee, 2012). Facebook has been blocked in China despite many attempts to negotiate with the Chinese president Hu Jintao, but also, they have been put off by Google’s restricted traffic which is censored (Lee, 2012).

Furthermore Eastern European countries have been less inclined to accept Facebook’s privacy policies, such as Germany. The U. K is the main market in Europe, followed by France, Spain and Italy. Though despite the low penetration rate for Asian countries, India, according to (Lee, 2012) is Asia’s stand-out success – it has almost 60 million users, Facebook’s third biggest country globally. However, this type of success comes at a price. The region is notorious for being the birth place of much of the service’s spam and ‘fake’ activity.

Facebook’s recent advantage is when Moscow based digital sky technologies invested $220 million, and has made a deal to extend its stake by offering past and present employees a chance to sell their share (Johnson, 2009). Despite Facebook’s criticisms based on their actual users – fake accounts, suspicious privacy settings, and or unwelcome capitalist ideology. Facebook has managed to recruit many active users globally, which had 5oo million users in 2010 to over 600 million 2011(Lee, 2012) and still has potential to reach further despite its obvious draw backs.

User percentages may be low in some areas around the world but still, its network has extended its self to every continent, and therefore is global in distance. New ways to reach even more people and continents are being established, such as the Asian under-sea cable project (News Technology 2012); inputting fibre optic cables into Japan, South- Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia. This will enable internet access to be easier and accessible to those countries, and then, branch off to others (News Technology 2012).

The American innovative android software platform is teaming up with Facebook (BBC News Tech 2013),the software will act like a ‘wrapper’ for the android operating system, and become the main way to use a phone, which will allow old and potentially new users to share, like, and connect with other users on a larger scale – at a much faster speed. This is done by Facebook’s platform being the sole search provider and filter for communications (BBC New Tech 2013). As statistics show bove, most continents are using Facebook; there may be a fraction of difference to those not connected, compared to the weight of those countries who are well accustomed to Facebook. However, the attempts that are being made by Facebook to extend its self-further, with Android and underwater cables, shows that the process for Martell’s global distance, is well underway as a fully globalised established social-phenomenon. As Facebook triumphs in making social relations extend globally, it biggest asset is its ability to remain free to the masses, while profits to be made in the shares still amount to millions of dollars for each investment.

So how is this possible? One way is to analyse the world trade within a global network. In this instance we look at how Facebook makes its money while remaining free to those who use it. Facebook makes it money through advertising amounting to 82% of its revenue, and every transaction that is made through the site, FB gets its slice. Most of the shareholders are from the western sphere (Johnson, 2009). For example: The largest investors so far is Netflix, who bought $3. 8 million worth of advertising on Facebook in 2011; The Washington-post company $4. million worth of ads, and Microsoft invested $15 billion in 2007. This creates greater inter-dependency between Facebook Company and its shareholders, and investors worldwide. If advertisements never generated any revenue in this way, Facebook and advertisers would meet its down-fall, and active users would then have to pay for the use. However, this trend has been characterised by economic conflict, and power relations, in where new standardised procedures of consumerist culture and deregulation has allowed for a global division in labour to take shape – called immaterial labour (Cohen 2008).

For example: According to (Cohen 2008) since May 2007, large developed outside companies have access to FB operating platform; companies like Amazon can monitor peoples activity and sell their information back to users in the form of commodities. In this instance, users are now the producers of the commodities they bye, and the surveillance is the process and main strategy by which the company retains members, and keeps them returning to the site (Cohen 2008).

Here it can be argued that there is a shift from paid labour, to a new free labour (self-service), characterised by the post-Fordist flexible regime – a dominant force in modern capitalism – another westernised ideology. Here we can see that this system of accumulation has embedded its self within the structural framework of Facebook’s network, as a reliable and consistent process. This is crucial for it to apply to Martell’s concept of globalisation. In this case it succeeds it regularity and stability, but at the cost of free labour, but unequally to the capitalist accumulation of surplus value.

In conclusion, in order for Martell’s concept of globalisation to be applicable to Facebook, its processes have to carry its equal weight. Here we can see that its uneven distribution of inputs as well as reach. Places like Sub-Saharan Africa fail to require the resources to obtain the privilege and therefore are excluded, and does not, therefore, include all the masses. Facebook is global in distance; its active users extend to every continent despite China’s censorship.

Even though there are some countries that are less inter-connected, strategies are being established to fulfil it potential to accumulate more users – not just globally but inter-regionally also. This will become more apparent when the android software takes its form. The stability and regularity has embedded its self within Facebook’s infrastructure; the relationship between its users and advertisers has created its basis for accumulation of wealth, and contributes to the global trend. The more users Facebook accumulates, creates an increasing interdependency between its advertisers and Facebook.

Meanwhile in the process, interdependency is strengthened between and within countries that sell their products inter-nationally. So here we can see that Facebook does mostly apply to Martell’s Globalised processes but is also subject to inequality in some parts; not all countries and masses are included to an extent. Moreover, the argument here is that Facebook is not global, but an extension of westernisation. Facebook is an American company with mostly American corporation’s investments. The consumerist culture embedded within its framework is a capitalist ideology which is also westernised.

The most predominant users are Anglo-American with European and Eastern-European trailing behind; this show’s a trend of westernised ideology transporting its culture through the realms of Facebook. The fact that advertisers sell their commodities that users produce, creates a new global division in labour – ‘Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)’ would protest the idea, and argue, that our natural instincts as social beings, is under the subordination of capitalist ideology; that we are socialising within state of false consciousness for the purpose of surplus value.

Therefore, whichever way Martell’s process of globalisation applies to Facebook – for most part, it is more so characterised, and shaped for the purposes of those in power, and those countries who cannot afford the connection, will be subject to policies favourable to those who have the means to establish it for them. Therefore, holistically the globalisation processes applied to Facebook may be subject to global processes, but is unequal by being subject to capitalist power, conflict and the inequality of the distribution of resources. Reference sociology Facebook BBC News, Technology. (2013) Facebook releases ‘Home’ Software for Android Phones. [Online] Available: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/technology-22025729. [Accessed 05/04/2013] BBC News Technology. (2012) Facebook invests in Asia Pacific Gateway underwater internet cable. [Online] Available: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/technology-18725728. [Accessed 05/04/2013] Cohen, N. S. (2008) The Valorization of Surveillance towards a Political Economy of Facebook. [Online] Available: http://udc. gc. org/communique/issues/Spring2008/cohen. pdf. [Accessed: 03/04/2013] Fowler, G. A. (2012) The wall street journal E. U,(ed). Facebook: One Billion and Counting. [Online] Available: http://online. wsj. com/article/SB10000872396390443635404578036164027386112. html. [Accessed: 01/04/2013] Johnson, B. (2009) The guardian. Technology blog spot. Russians Extend their Stake in Facebook. [Online] Available: http://www. guardian. co. uk/technology/blog/2009/jul/14/facebook-mergers-acquisitions. Accessed 01/04/13] Lee, D (2012) BBC News Technology: Facebook surpasses 1 billion users as it attempts new markets [Online] Available: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/technology-19816709. [Accessed 01/04/2013] Martell, L. (2010) The Sociology of Globalisation. Cambridge: Polity Press. Moth, D. (2012) E-consultancy: What does Facebook global pages means for brand content strategies? [Online] Available: http://econsultancy. com/uk/blog/10930-what-do-facebook-global-pages-mean-for-brand-content-strategies. [Accessed 03/04/2013] Sassen, S. (2007) A

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