There has been a lot of buzz about Skype recently, with it being acquired by Microsoft and integrated into Facebook as another chat option, but what exactly does Skype mean to those in the social media world? It has been debated that Skype is a social tool; not a social network and vice versa. However with having over 2 billion people who have downloaded this software, does it matter how it is defined? Is Skype a place that helps you socialize (social tool) or where you socialize (social network)?
Let’s revisit the definition of, “Social Network” to find out if Skype can be considered as one or if it is a social tool instead. The term, “Social Network” is defined by the Webster Online Dictionary to be:
Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).
Social networks such as, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ give users several different ways to communicate electronically, which is also what Skype provides, but can we go as far as to say that it too is a social networking site? It does say that a “Form of electronic communication… ” is a social network and it is obvious that this is what Skype is. So is the debate settled then? Well, it seems there is more to it than that.
Skype provides a way for users to create groups, chat rooms, voice and video calls, plus allows users to instantly share files with one another. The difference between Skype and other social networks like, Twitter is that it is not a “site”; rather it is software that is downloaded in order to be used. So with that difference, does it make Skype a social tool instead? It is stated in Webster’s definition of the term “Social Network” that, “Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging)…” So it seems as though in order to be a social network that it must be a site and not software?
Does this mean that it is possible that Skype is neither a social network nor social tool, or could it be that it is both? It may all be based on if you feel people can network and make connections on Skype or if it is just a communication only tool. Can we truly say that Skype is used just like a phone? Or is there more to it than that? It seems as though the Skype debate cannot be easily put to rest, however, it is possible that the only manner where Skype can truly be defined are in the methods in which individuals use it and by the ways they view it to be.
How do you view Skype? Do you think Skype is a social network or social tool?