The social significance of the Facebook Like button
In this paper we study social aspects of using the Like button for purposes of impression management, identity construction, and maintenance of social ties online. On the theoretical level our investigation combines Goffman’s notion of face-work with concepts of social network analysis, shedding light on what we dub ‘nano-level’ interaction and sociality on social networking sites. Our data come from a 2013 classroom survey in which 26 Finnish university students were asked about their motives for and ways of using the Like button. Our results show that though the Like button was designed to allow users to express their positive evaluations of the contents of Facebook posts, comments, and pictures, it was in actual fact used for a wide variety of purposes, from dating efforts to conversation regulation and maintenance of social ties. Our results also reveal that the networked Facebook audience affects the users’ liking behavior, and that users reflect their liking based on previous likes.
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