Keith Cronk

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Gartner research suggests that by 2016, 30 percent of social media posts will be automated and five percent will be from nonhumans! These may in fact be low numbers! So as we reflect on that prediction and as the 10-year mark for Facebook passes by, what do we think and feel about social media?

It surely has changed. I recall in summer 2004 Harding was wrestling with how to work with social media on campus. The content filters in place then were blocking sites like MySpace — it had become a repository for a considerable amount of seedy material. The buzz in 2004 was about this new platform called Facebook.

Wanting to know more about the site, I did some looking around and found a number to call at the bottom of Facebook’s homepage. Much to my surprise, the number happened to be Mark Zuckerberg’s own phone. He answered my call as he was walking the streets of Los Angeles, I believe, looking for space to set up more servers. I asked him about his plans for Facebook and if he saw it to be like MySpace. While he was not certain about the future of Facebook, he did say that he did not want it to become like MySpace. At the time, Facebook members were restricted to .edu networks in the United States. Of course that restriction was lifted in a relatively short time.

From there, we have lived through the growth of Facebook and other social media. Now it appears that Twitter is taking the place of Facebook. Recently in a class, I asked the students how they see people engaging in social media in three to five years’ time. A number see less activity as more of social media is infiltrated with marketing and not so social. Others described social media as a “highway of people” and as a place where we will always connect and interact. Even further though, some see a social media presence as a necessity to build trust and validity. If someone does not have a social media presence then they are not real.

One thing is for sure, in its 10 years of existence, Facebook has generated momentum in social media. Today there are people of all ages and many nationalities who post, like, share and even poke on Facebook. It will take a significant force to stop that momentum.

Keith Cronk, CIO/vice president of information systems and technology

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