Social networks, media, user profile, and user data are key elements of the social web in creating ties between objects and resources on the Internet. The challenges of providing relational content distribution to enhance media consumption are privacy and fragmentation. Privacy is major issue concerning sharing and tracking personal information for relational and contextual distribution of media. Fundamentally, users evaluate the risks and opportunity on social networks. Although, there are complex relations between opportunity and risk, online activities require critical judgment, trust, social values, and expectations all of which shape social networking privacy behavior (Livingstone, 2008, p.379). The risk of having personal information stored on the Internet verses the opportunity to have relational content distribution. The pressure for the latter option is the product of the information revolution, facilitated by the Internet. Currently, if content is pushed to a user that has a weak relation, it is considered spam, yet if content is pushed to the user that is highly relevant, this could constitute a breach of privacy. The full implications of profiling users and their activities have not yet been fully realised. Nevertheless, the public has little control over these activities that plague the online social networks.
More and more responsibility and onus on privacy is deflected to users. Although there is a tendency for users to be less concerned with privacy issues as relational media distribution has higher value than the perceived privacy risk. The volume of information requires more effective models of information retrieval. Successive and dictionary searchers are no longer effective methods of retrieval with the vast composition of media online. The adoption of the social web will support the distribution of niche, contextual information and media. Supporting this initiative presents unprecedented value to the consumer as it will enhance the attainment of “experience, attainment, and understanding” in the digital environment (Adams, 1997, pg.947). Ultimately, the social web leveraging personal information enables more proficient filtering, which is necessary for improved web services.
New media has a shorter lifecycle and rapid production. Accessibility to relevant content is high priority and will enhance a user’s experience. Evens et al (2010) says media including digital television require new strategies that apply interactivity, and the long tail-based business model to tailor content specific to the user. The increased impact of niche content is consequently reducing the impact of blockbusters (mainstream) media. This is facilitated by the Internet and “by applying the long tail principle, the provision of digital niche content aims to suit all tastes, including minority interests” (p.1009). Although there is more verity of media, the methods of distributing are still evolving. The recognition that tailed content across the long-tail can be facilitated by the social web has yet to be explored or applied entirely. A barrier to distributing media is the fragmentation of Internet resources. Media and data are fragmented over the web with very little unity in structure. The massive migration of users to social networks leads people to believe that innovation in media distribution will come from these platforms. Utilizing the semantic web and metadata “descriptive” methodologies, will be the key to link personal profiles and network ties, facilitating the retrieval of relevant media.
Facebook has the third largest population in the world. The platform provides a standardised experience (network connections, and data structures) that will enhance the delivery of content, based on complex contextual reasoning using individual’s personal information and data. The 2010 partnership of Bing and Facebook could be revolutionary to the social web ideology, by reorganizing the distribution and consequently the consumption of new media. Other social networks such as Linkedin can mirror this activity in the future to provide media that is more specific to their platform genre. For business professionals, leveraging their personal Linkedin profile to retrieve contextual industry and business media has profound value. Nevertheless, the professional networks continually scrutinize the privacy of sensitive information as these issues potentially have serious adverse financial and social impacts.