my response to survey “don’t have Facebook profile – you’re not “in” “

Recently, I’ve read in media  the results of the survey by “xy” marketing agency (don’t want to advertise them here) who did research of the usage of Facebook in Serbia. This is my response and strong argument against  superficial output without research corpus statements of the author, agency, and unverified data published. I loathe these strong unverified allegations that appear officially. What it was about?

All Serbian media published the ‘results’ of commercial marketing agency’s survey about the popularity of the “sites for youth” in Serbia and they came to conclusion that the most popular are Facebook and My Space.  Beyond this general data, there are other things here I want to share with you, those they have ‘found out’. According to them, their target group was youth, age 18-25:  30%  of the examined population use everyday Internet and 61% of them have Facebook profile, and 37% have profile on My Space.

“They [youth] see Facebook as serious web site which enables them to communicate with people who live far away, to find soul-mates, and to have fun there. They are also emphasizing that those who don’t have Facebook profile – are ‘out’ ” (translated from Serbian, they are not cool, my remark).

Furthermore, the author of this research says that young people are noticing lot of fake profiles and (re)presentations, and Facebook is the reason they communicate less face to face, and therefore conclusion: they have negative Facebook opinion, privacy issues,  and connotation including the Facebook addiction. These three sentences on Facebook was everything we got from ‘research of marketing agency. Yuck!

Now I have to say something and respond to this kind lump of smattering, no survey corpus, non reliable conclusions.

First, this kind of surveys are ‘ordered’ from marketers or agency for certain [non – academic] purposes not to mention that companies of this kind try to demand and fence their users in certain boxes and or pre-ordered groups. Why? There is huge list of e-market interests in Serbia for future (re)shaping their users and making fertile e-ground for new ‘projects’ and investments.

Second, on this survey’s ‘results’ published in all Serbian media:  this unverified data should be kept under huge question mark and reserve from several reasons. There is no corpus of the research – no numbers of people included in this survey: what Serbian networks? Is it University network? High School network (there are no high school networks created on Facebook in Serbia, in general, dear agency)? No-network search of the users? All Serbia network? Methodology? Data? Charts?

For your information, including today: there are 143,891 people in Serbia network, and further – there are 1,619 people in the University of Belgrade network. Does this mean that the author and the agency did survey on  10,000 people? Or maybe 1000? We will never find out that. Did they send their questionnaires to classmates from high school, university, colleagues, ex housemates, lost friends so they have qualitative kind of output? There is nothing in this survey  that would show or notify us about indications regarding research (where is summarized corpus with quantitative and qualitative data?).

As above mentioned privacy issues: they are talking about privacy issues but they didn’t mention the most important fact that those teens and youth are exposing their FB profiles to the public along with their photos from parties, open for public. I got feedback data (youngsters) in Serbia network, as i was noticing and reporting to some of them that their profiles can be seen to everyone (along with photos).  From my direct talk with them, they didn’t know that their profile is exposed (not literate enough to find and adjust privacy settings) and this is the most often case with the group of undergrads who simply was not familiar with privacy mechanisms.  They were in shock (“oh my god!” reactions, and “I thought it was ‘friend only”) “,  which indicated that this small sample of youth in Serbia are self-aware that Facebook is network !read Network! for gathering with friends with whom they know from real life and re-establish connections (already existing) with, primarily, high school mates, university colleagues, etc.  They don’t care about strangers  or unknown people pending on ‘friend requests’ list. Of course there will be ‘collectors’ of strangers and friends for such purposes (we have them in everyday life), but finding soul-mates? I’m afraid , dear agency, that Serbian youth are gathered around Facebook for different reasons but finding soul-mates. They are soul-mating on other places.

“Conclusion there is negative Facebook connotation including the Facebook addiction” is hideous and contradictory if we have in mind above numbers (61% have Facebook profile and is the most popular site). If Facebook is such a bad and negative social network site, then why would many thousands of Serbian population get connected, socializing  with their friends, colleagues, classmates and communicate with them on daily basis? They are on Facebook to hang out with their friends and classmates in pre-existed relationships from real life, or re-connecting with those they’ve lost contact with, or connecting with their allies they never met face to face. There is huge University of Belgrade community on Facebook who talk about upcoming exams on the boards, exchange information, how-where-to find that book for exam, info on conferences, projects, etc.

Few years back, when I was doing research for my Master thesis – the existing surveys of Telecom (national telecommunication company) or CePIT(center for the research in Information-communication technologies) , have got not only explained methodology and all important basic data from their research, but also they’ve created user-friendly charts as you’d read at any e-journal, magazine out there. Open accessed and published to all media.

Said that, I am strongly arguing against this kind of public superficial announcements in media with suspicious outputs as millions of people in Serbia are reading them and (probably) taking them for granted, without having in mind the facts (Serbia network on Facebook as well as the other networks -university, work, region), social-technological context, survey corpus, criteria, purpose.  Question everything, question me!

On socio-ethno-anthro context of “you are  noone if you are not on Facebook” in Serbia,  I will write in the upcoming texts.


  1. billyjane says:

    zanimljiv tekst,jako.i ja sam se iznervirala kad sam cula za to ‘anketiranje’..pre par godina si ‘bio niko’ ako nemas myspace,sad je facebook preuzeo to etiketiranje…sto se tice privatnosti,uzasava koliko ljudi nije svesno da se prihvatanjem ‘terms of use’ fejsbuka odricu prava na sopstvene sadrzaje koje upload-uju..
    ja ga dozivljavam kao nuzno zlo,za kontakt s nekim ljudima koji nisu tu…zabrinjavajuci jeste porast ljudi koji ne zele da izadju na kafu jer im je dovoljno da ti posalju virtuelni starbucks i misle da je to dovoljno…
    eto,samo josh nesto;neki moji drugari su poceli interno da nazivaju fejsbuk-fejsbuljom,ali njih nije niko anketirao;p
    do sledeceg citanja,

  2. Danica says:

    ovde je problem sto samo ‘istrazivanje’, anketa ima propuste, ili su barem mediji prikazali rezultate na takav nacin. takodje, nigde nije objavljen web site sa metodologijom i rezultatima doticne agencije.
    sto se privatnosti tice, to je posebno pitanje, a svi beze od pokretanja istog. licno sam bila frapirana da je jedna od ispitanica (18) napisala da je u sushtini bas briga ako fotografije vide svi na facebook-u, ne samo prijatelji, a cinjenica je da je facebook premashio i flickr (koji je opet drustvena mreza za uploadovanje i sharing fotografija) po broju uplodovanih fotografija dnevno. dakle , ne samo omladina, nego i stariji kace slike sa zurki, dogoadjaja – prikazujuci “gde sam bio, sta sam radio” – nemaju u vidu pravo ToS Facebook-a.
    ne mora da bude nuzno zlo, ako osoba zna da kontorlishe informaciije koje ce objaviti tamo. na zalost, vecini facebook predstavlja mesto za dokazivanje, prikazivanje, prikupljanje ‘prijatelja’ i jos poneshto a poenta je povezivanje sa starim kolegama, drustovm iz skole, ili prijateljima, dakle ljudima sa kojima se vec poznajes, a ne ‘skapanje novih poznanastava’. za to postoje ostale drustvene mreze. facebook su to jasno napomenuli.
    hvala na komentaru!

    * for non-serbian speakers, comment was remark on the above mentioned survey in negative context, and how people don’t read ToS of Facebook regarding privacy issues, uploading private content without even thinking about it. also, some people think that it just takes for ‘hanging out’ to send someone virtual Starbucks coffee , rather than hanging out in real life.
    which is sad…

  3. ivanhoe says:

    Interesting reading. While I agree with general idea presented here, I’d just like to point one small contradiction I’ve noticed: You argue that conclusions can’t be drawn without proper research methodology and with unknown corpus, yet in your text you present the conclusion that “Serbian youth are gathered around Facebook for different reasons but finding soul-mates” as a solid fact, and yet from the data you provided I must ask how can you be so sure? Are you falling into the same trap as those journalists in your text, publishing superficial conclusions as facts, although they’re based mostly on nothing but personal impressions ?

  4. Danica says:

    ivanhoe: i am not a journalist, i am phd student, researcher and consultant. my research is scientifically based with empiric study and representative exemplar with additional conversations with users within the network on this topic.

  5. Pre svega , zelim da pohvalim tekst. Pojava FB-a u Srbiji prevazilazi sve granice. Naime, danas sam bas proveravao podatke i naisao sam da do danasnjeg dana vec postoji 155.000 prijavljenih! Ovo istrazivanje je bilo pomalo neozbiljno (pod uslovom da su mediji tacno preneli informacije), i stoga mi je drago sto neko pise na ovu temu veoma ozbiljno. Mislim da u Srbiji ne postoji dovoljn svest o tome kakvo i kolik je stetno dejstvo Facebook-a na mlade (ne iskljucujem ni stariju populaciju). Bojim se da ce pod ovakvim uslovima i tendencijom porasti broja prijavljenih na FB, socioloski nivo komunikacije i samog zivljenja, kod mladih ljudi pasti na veoma niske grane. FB je prevashodno bio namenjen kao akademska mreza, kao sto i Danica kaze, ali su je ljudi promenili u nesto sto je sad postalo, po mom licnom mesljenju-kic! Mislim, zasto bi jedno normalno ljudsko bice imalo potrebu da ga svi gledaju i komentarisu ili pak znaju njegovo/njeno emotivno stanje!? Mislim da je ovo tema o kojoj ce tek biti reci, jer je zavisnost od FB cyber zivota u porastu. Upravo zbog toga sam i ja dao moje licno misljenje na ovu temu, na mom blogu.


  6. Voja says:

    Hmm… Facebook… Samo za pronalazenje davno izgubljenih kontakata, malo kuglanja, Pro Racer trkanje, i kraj… Tako da sam ja definitivno out… 🙂
    Napravio bih paralelu sa muzickim afinitetima… Da, definitivno postoje i “narodnjaci” i zabavnjaci i ovi i oni, ali ako ne gledas Grand show i slicne hepeninge, ne ides na splavove i gledas (slusas bi bilo suvise pohvalno) one koji nastupaju, ne oblacis se kao “zvezde Granda”, definitivno nisi in…
    I ja nisam in… I lepo mi je… I zivim u uskom krugu ljudi koji dele moje misljenje… I super name je…
    Podseticu na grupu “je*e mi se gde ste sinoc bili” ili tako nesto, bas na FB… Ima zanimljivih komentara…
    O bezbednosti podataka na FB, i mogucnostima njihovog eksploatisanja mislim da nema sta da se kaze… Sto vec nije receno…

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