Social Networking

What is Social Networking?

Social Networking describes websites which connects internet users into social groups based on certain categories such as hobbies and interests. It is seen as a social structure that ties individuals together and which allows these individuals to be part of a viral community. Online social networking sites share the lives of people all around the world and allow individuals to access this information. Connecting through individuals allow social networking to occur.


History of Social Networking

Social Networking started in the early stages with BBS or bulletin board system. These allowed internet users to communicate into a central system where you could download games and chat with other users. As BBS began to grow so did commercial ISP or internet service providers such as Compuserve, AOL and EarthLink. Beverly Hills Internet reformed the concept of BBS and introduced internet users into the world of HTML. This came to be known as GeoCities and it became one of the earliest social networking sites in 1995. Soon came to adopt this format with tens of millions of users looking to rekindle relationships over the web with old Classmates. Instant messaging became to grow with the release of AOL instant messenger. In 2003 Jonathan Abrams combined all of these concepts and put it all together in one website called Friendster. A few months later a group in Los Angeles formed MySpace which turned out to be a hit among internet users. In 2003, Mark Zuckerburg came up with Facebook. Today these trends continue with many social networking sites growing and connecting individuals together within this viral community.

Social Networking Sites

As technology advances, the amount of social networking sites has been increasing as well. From the well-known Live Journal, Asian Avenue, hi5, Friendster and Xanga that were popular back in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s, to now the widely used Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. As these social networking sites allow users to network, share information and communicate with one another, they have attracted millions of users and have incorporated in our everyday lives. With the countless of social networking sites we have today, some offer different networking features for information sharing and usage. For example, Xanga, Live Journal and Twitter are used for blogging. Asian Avenue and Zuup allow users to create web sites for their friends to check out. Flickr is used for photo/video sharing and Lavalife is used for online dating services and so forth.



Many social websites surfaced such as: as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Flickr became part of Web 2.0.These websites enable users to share their ideas, express themselves and to meet new friends through these online applications. Although these types of websites are efficient and fun, however, it generates a major problem, the idea of privacy. With technology rapidly changing, uploading or downloading pictures, photos, videos and data has became a very simple task. People could easily capture moments with their phones and instantly upload on the Internet. People can upload whatever they recorded onto Youtube without the consent of the people in the video. This has become a common trend in the society, where people would capture anything interesting to them, and instantly upload. Another trend is video blogging, where users would record their thoughts onto video and expose all over the world. Facebook, is another website that people can easily check out other people’s photos and information. All this might seem harmless, until an unfamiliar person has hold of your information. Twitter, would be another example where people could know where and what the user is doing daily. The problem with web 2.0 is, the users would not have complete control over who screens your profiles.



When using social networking sites, it is very common for most users share a certain degree of personal information. Common issues are privacy infringements when users expose more personal information then intended to other users. At one point, Facebook application creators had full access to user’s profile and personal information as long the user was registered to the application. The users themselves were not aware of this and were not fully safe even with their adjusted privacy settings. There has also been known issues about concerns for child safety which involves the risk of encountering a sex predator online. Such issue could take form in false age disclosure and make teenagers believe that they’re socializing with a stranger of the same age. The government plans on a technological method to ensure age verification on these social networking sites for safer use in the future. Lastly, the groups formed in social networking can be very negative. Such groups of concern are hate groups which can cause problems for the community. There have been notable hate groups that were forced to be shut down on Facebook for depicting hate on high school teachers. These types of misuse and profanity on social networking sites can be damaging to users as well. In addition, these social networking platforms can magnify the existing cultural divides through formation of cultural-specific groups and encouraging specific cultures while marginalizing others. This can be a major problem because these sites that are suppose to be global communication platforms become cultural dividers.


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