As I have grown to understand just how prominent social networking (and the like) is in our society today, I have begun to question the responsibility of such power. It is one thing to simply serve your users yet it is a completely different, and far more significant, thing to empower those same users to actively participate in their society.
It would not be farfetched to say that most people check social networking sites several times a week, if not far more frequently. Our fondness of these sites allows them to sit comfortably along such other things in our life as cars, TVs, telephones, etc. which we greatly rely on. Yet we ask nothing of these sites – just that they don’t make the site too difficult for us to use.
Perhaps it was never the intention of these social networking sites to serve society, just the lack of communal conversation, a gap which has surely grown since its invention, that exists in society. Whatever the reason behind such oversight, it is clear that there is some real value missing here. A technology that was design to improve communication has, in reality, made us less able to communicate – at least in a real world setting. (I will expand this idea in the future.)
Being a socially responsible site means being a watchdog for the society of which the site owes its existence. It means empowering the very people who use the site to do more in their society and ask more of themselves. It means allowing people to be more human, even if that means they will communicate in physical form rather than via your service.