"while Renren and Facebook are two technically similar platforms, the Renren culture is perceived as more collectivistic than the Facebook culture. Furthermore…. users… perform more benevolent in-group sharing when they participate in the Renren community and less so when they participate in the Facebook community."
Qui, L. Lin, H., and Leung, A. K. (2012). Cultural differences and switching of in-group sharing behavior between an American (Facebook) and a Chinese (Renren) social networking site. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, XX(X): 1-16.
An interesting analysis of the expression of culture in the use (and design?) of social networking systems that are similar technologically, but were developed in culturally different contexts.
A few quotes:
Genevieve Bell (2001): cyberspace is “a product of and a producer of culture simultaneously”. (p. 2)
Also Genevieve: research on MUDs “showed that different branches of MUD may have different cultures, with some focusing on developing and facilitating social interactions and some focusing on exploring and pursuing adventurous experiences” (p. 2)
Cho (2010) showed that users of Korean-based SNSs (e.g., Cyworld) have fewer but more intimate friends, tend to keep their public profile anonymous, exhibit lesser but more personal self-disclosure, and use more non-verbal communication means (e.g., graphics or icons), whereas users of American-based SNSs (e.g., Facebook) have more friends, exhibit more frequent self-disclosure, and rely more on direct text-based communication. Another recent study also showed that interestingly users of Japanese SNSs tend to use animal pictures of cartoons as their profile pictures, whereas users of American SNSs tend to display their real pictures (Marcus & Krishnamurthi, 2009). Relatedly, Chapman and Lahav (2008) found that users of American SNSs like to broadcast information about themselves by writing blogs and sharing personal pictures; users of French SNS like to carry out discussions that are not personal; users of Korean SNSs like to share pictures with only their closed friends; and users of Chinese SNSs like to play games and share resources with other users. (p. 3)
Asian-based SNSs tend to have tighter social relationships, with their practices reflecting an indirect communication style and less open self-disclosure; American-based SNSs tend to have wider social networks, with their practices reflecting a more direct communication style and bolder self-disclosure.