1.1 Background to the Study
The arrival of social media has greatly enhanced human communication. The new technology due to the participatory, interactivity and cost-effectiveness nature has barely made everyone who can use it a means of communication. This brings to realization of the prediction of Marshal McLuhan in 1964 that the world would someday become a “global village” where what happens in one part of the world would be known instantly and simultaneously worldwide.
Social media therefore plays a fundamental role in the field of Mass Communication including the training of Mass Communication Students in Nigeria. The fact justifies that social media has been taking place across the globe in recent times. The term social media, according to Ogedegbe (2016), is a large computer network formed out of some thousands of interconnected networks, and supports a whole range of services such as electronic, file transfer protocol, data base access and many others. It is therefore not surprising the success story behind the advent of the internet. It is also known as a network that links computers all over the world by satellite and telephone, connecting users with service networks such as Email and the world wide web (www).
Today, the internet has linked thousands of nations and enterprises across the world. Hence the world which appears physically large has been made small by the internet and justifies the reference to the world as a global village. The internet gave rise to the birth of social networking sites, which, according to Okenwa (2018) are web-based services that allow individuals to;
1. Construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,
2. Articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and
3. View and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.
What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between "existing ties" who share some offline connection Hawthorn, (2015).
On many of the large social networking sites, participants are not necessarily "networking" or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network. Social network sites have a wide variety of technical feature, their backbone consists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends who are also users of the system. Profiles are unique pages where one can "type oneself into being" Sunder (2013). After joining a social network site, an individual is asked to fill out forms containing a series of questions. The profile is generated using the answers to these questions, which typically include descriptors such as age, location, interests, and an "about me" section. Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users to enhance their profiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profile's look and feel. Others, such as Facebook, allow users to add modules (Applications) that enhance their profile.
After joining a social network site, users are asked to identify others in the system with which they have a relationship. Most social network sites require bi-directional confirmation for Friendship, but some do not. These one-directional ties are sometimes labelled as "Fans" or "Followers," but many sites call these Friends as well. The term "Friends" can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarily mean friendship in the everyday vernacular sense, and the reasons people connect are varied (Boyd, 2016).