A Model of How Collegiate Online Social Networks Fit into Internet Communication (Part 2)

The brick and mortar structure of the university feeds into the two opposing forces in forms the conflict that is presented in the media when regarding the university's position on online social networks. Those two forces are the emersion of the individual user into the online social network and the influence of the real world power structures on the online social network. The fuel for the conflict really comes from the media presented created in Facebook. When there are pictures of underage students' drinking, posts about students using illegal drugs and/or videos of other activities that would normally get a student thrown out of college, there is a good possibility that there will be some media focus of the story. 

Perhaps a bigger point of conflict regarding online social networks is that they can not be controlled from the top-down. For example, if one were to examine the role that Ohio State played in an attempted ban on negative comments on their Facebook page, one could argue that the news focus went beyond the initial point of conflict and the "censorship" the university attempted was perceived as a lack of openness on the part of the university. OSU attempted to formal public relations communication on an informal social network (Facebook) within an informal communication system (the Internet). Such a move is really misunderstanding of the public sphere and how system like Facebook work around blocks to the system.

It seems that the conflict could be mediated through a type of social network literacy. Users should be made aware of the potential audience of their online presentations. Also if all of the stakeholders to the system could take some time and attempt to play and/or understand the network, then there could be less misunderstanding regarding the presentations on online social networks.