By the characteristic of virtuality, a social networking site (SNS) like Facebook is essentially a computer-based platform for converting text and image into binary codes that may be stored on one computer and distributed across the Internet and picked up by other computers. It is one of the most interactive new media platforms by which consumers can create their own material either in text or image and engage into an interaction with the Facebook contacts and communities with whom they may or may not have face-to-face interaction. Compared to the passive take-it-or leave-it approach of the traditional media, new media like the Facebook is an extremely interactive platform (Brown, n.d). In terms of van Dijk’s (2006) scheme of interactivity of digital media, which may be at different levels depending upon the space, time, behavioral and understanding the meaning of interactions, the SNSs like Facebook may be considered at the third level of development. The sender and the receiver can not only communicate any time and place (other digital media like television or email can also do this, with email having the advantage of two-way communication), the SNS can also alter the behavioral pattern of the communication in which the sender and the receiver can switch roles. ...
The SNS has had wide dispersal in terms of usage and is utilized for various purposes like social causes, business and political communication and so on. By creating a Facebook profile, a company or a politician or a social organization can advertise its products and causes for no cost. It can also receive messages from other members. Creating a Facebook community allows the consumer to post news feed on the wall or send messages to members through e-mail. The profile of the consumer can disperse through word-of-mouth of other members as well as through the send-to-a-friend option (Edouard, n.d).
Facebook allows members to live a virtual life, engage in virtual relationships and activities. Many members even create anonymous identities for themselves while creating their profiles and communicating online through Facebook (Brown. n.d).
The term "digital divide" connotes the inequalities in access to the new media. Even though the access to the Internet has been pervasive in the developed world, it has not been so in the developing economies. The access to Facebook may be from household connections or individual wireless connections or from public connections like from public libraries, government buildings. Internet cafes or telecentres (van Djik, 2008). While most members access the Internet and the Facebook from household or wireless connections in the western world, it is considered a luxury to do so in the developing world. Hence, there is more focus on public access of internet in the poorer countries where even this is inadequate.
According to van Djik (2008), there are various types of access for the digital media, like motivational access, material or