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Online social networks or social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Online community services are sometimes considered as a social network service, though in a broader sense, social network service usually means an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.
The main types of social networking services are those which contain category places (such as former school year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages) and a recommendation system linked to trust. There have been attempts to standardize these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries of friends and interests (see the FOAF standard and the Open Source Initiative). A 2011 survey found that 47% of American adults used a social network. 
The potential for computer networking to facilitate new forms of computer-mediated social interaction was suggested early on. Efforts to support social networks via computer-mediated communication were made in many early online services, including Usenet, ARPANET, LISTSERV, and bulletin board services (BBS). Many prototypical features of social networking sites were also present in online services such as America Online, Prodigy, and CompuServe. Early social networking on the World Wide Web began in the form of generalized online communities such as Theglobe.com (1995), Geocities (1994) and Tripod.com (1995). Many of these early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and encouraged users to share personal information and ideas via personal webpages by providing easy-to-use publishing tools and free or inexpensive webspace. Some communities - such as Classmates.com - took a different approach by simply having people link to each other via email addresses. In the late 1990s, user profiles became a central feature of social networking sites, allowing users to compile lists of "friends" and search for other users with similar interests. New social networking methods were developed by the end of the 1990s, and many sites began to develop more advanced features for users to find and manage friends. This newer generation of social networking sites began to flourish with the emergence of SixDegrees.com in 1997, followed by Makeoutclub in 2000,, Friendster in 2002, and soon became part of the Internet mainstream. Friendster was followed by MySpace and LinkedIn a year later, and finally, Bebo. Attesting to the rapid increase in social networking sites' popularity, by 2005, MySpace was reportedly getting more page views than Google. Facebook, launched in 2004, has since become the largest social networking site in the world.Today, it is estimated that there are now over 200 active sites using a wide variety of social networking models. May 2011: Based on TNS research, the global average of who access daily the social networking sites accounts is 46 percent.
Web based social networking services make it possible to connect people who share interests and activities across political, economic, and geographic borders. Through e-mail and instant messaging, online communities are created where a gift economy and reciprocal altruism are encouraged through cooperation. Information is particularly suited to gift economy, as information is a nonrival good and can be gifted at practically no cost.
Facebook and other social networking tools are increasingly the object of scholarly research. Scholars in many fields have begun to investigate the impact of social networking sites, investigating how such sites may play into issues of identity, privacy, social capital, youth culture, and education.
Several websites are beginning to tap into the power of the social networking model for philanthropy. Such models provide a means for connecting otherwise fragmented industries and small organizations without the resources to reach a broader audience with interested users. Social networks are providing a different way for individuals to communicate digitally. These communities of hypertexts allow for the sharing of information and ideas, an old concept placed in a digital environment.
Social networking sites share some conventional features. Most often, individual users are encouraged to create profiles containing various information about themselves. Users can often upload pictures of themselves to their profiles, post blog entries for others to read, search for other users with similar interests, and compile and share lists of contacts. In addition, user profiles often have a section dedicated to comments from friends and other users. To protect user privacy, social networks usually have controls that allow users to choose who can view their profile, contact them, add them to their list of contacts, and so on.
In recent years, it has also become common for a wide variety of organizations to create profiles to advertise products and services.
As the increase in popularity of social networking is on a constant rise, new uses for the technology are constantly being observed.
At the forefront of emerging trends in social networking sites is the concept of "real-time web" and "location based." Real time allows users to contribute content, which is then broadcasted as it is being uploaded - the concept is analogous to live radio and television broadcasts. Twitter set the trend for "real time" services, where users can broadcast to the world what they are doing, or what is on their minds within a 140 character limit. Facebook followed suit with their "Live Feed" where users' activities are streamed as soon as it happens. While Twitter focuses on words, Clixtr, another real time service, focuses on group photo sharing where users can update their photo streams with photos while at an event. Facebook, however, remains easily the greatest photo sharing site - Facebook application and photo aggregator Pixable estimates that Facebook will have 100 billion photos by Summer 2011 .
Foursquare gained popularity as it allowed for users to "check-in" to places that they are frequenting at that moment. Gowalla is another such service which functions in much the same way that Foursquare does, leveraging the GPS in phones to create a location-based user experience. Clixtr, though in the real time space, is also a location based social networking site since events created by users are automatically geotagged, and users can view events occurring nearby through the Clixtr iPhone app. Recently, Yelp announced its entrance into the location based social networking space through check-ins with their mobile app; whether or not this becomes detrimental to Foursquare or Gowalla is yet to be seen as it is still considered a new space in the Internet technology industry.
One popular use for this new technology is social networking between businesses. Companies have found that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to build their brand image. According to Jody Nimetz, author of Marketing Jive, there are five major uses for businesses and social media: to create brand awareness, as an online reputation management tool, for recruiting, to learn about new technologies and competitors, and as a lead generation tool to intercept potential prospects. These companies are able to drive traffic to their own online sites while encouraging their consumers and clients to have discussions on how to improve or change products or services.
One other use that is being discussed is the use of social networks in the science communities. Julia Porter Liebeskind et al. have published a study on how new biotechnology firms are using social networking sites to share exchanges in scientific knowledge. They state in their study that by sharing information and knowledge with one another, they are able to "increase both their learning and their flexibility in ways that would not be possible within a self-contained hierarchical organization." Social networking is allowing scientific groups to expand their knowledge base and share ideas, and without these new means of communicating their theories might become "isolated and irrelevant".
Social networks are also being used by teachers and students as a communication tool. Because many students are already using a wide-range of social networking sites, teachers have begun to familiarize themselves with this trend and are now using it to their advantage. Teachers and professors are doing everything from creating chat-room forums and groups to extend classroom discussion to posting assignments, tests and quizzes, to assisting with homework outside of the classroom setting. Social networks are also being used to foster teacher-parent communication. These sites make it possible and more convenient for parents to ask questions and voice concerns without having to meet face-to-face.
Social networks are being used by activists as a means of low-cost grassroots organizing. Extensive use of an array of social networking sites enabled organizers of the 2009 National Equality March to mobilize an estimated 200,000 participants to march on Washington with a cost savings of up to 85% per participant over previous methods.
The use of online social networks by libraries is also an increasingly prevalent and growing tool that is being used to communicate with more potential library users, as well as extending the services provided by individual libraries.
A final rise in social network use is being driven by college students using the services to network with professionals for internship and job opportunities. Many studies have been done on the effectiveness of networking online in a college setting, and one notable one is by Phipps Arabie and Yoram Wind published in Advances in Social Network Analysis.
Privacy concerns with social networking services have been raised growing concerns amongst users on the dangers of giving out too much personal information and the threat of sexual predators. Users of these services also need to be aware of data theft or viruses. However, large services, such as MySpace and Netlog, often work with law enforcement to try to prevent such incidents.
In addition, there is a perceived privacy threat in relation to placing too much personal information in the hands of large corporations or governmental bodies, allowing a profile to be produced on an individual's behavior on which decisions, detrimental to an individual, may be taken.
Furthermore, there is an issue over the control of data—information that was altered or removed by the user may in fact be retained and/or passed to third parties. This danger was highlighted when the controversial social networking site Quechup harvested e-mail addresses from users' e-mail accounts for use in a spamming operation.
In medical and scientific research, asking subjects for information about their behaviors is normally strictly scrutinized by institutional review boards, for example, to ensure that adolescents and their parents have informed consent. It is not clear whether the same rules apply to researchers who collect data from social networking sites. These sites often contain a great deal of data that is hard to obtain via traditional means. Even though the data are public, republishing it in a research paper might be considered invasion of privacy.
Privacy on social networking sites can be undermined by many factors. For example, users may disclose personal information, sites may not take adequate steps to protect user privacy, and third parties frequently use information posted on social networks for a variety of purposes. "For the Net generation, social networking sites have become the preferred forum for social interactions, from posturing and role playing to simply sounding off. However, because such forums are relatively easy to access, posted content can be reviewed by anyone with an interest in the users' personal information".
Following plans by the UK government to monitor traffic on social networks schemes similar to E-mail jamming have been proposed for networks such as Twitter and Facebook. These would involve "friending" and "following" large numbers of random people to thwart attempts at network analysis.
Risk for child safetyEdit
Citizens and governments have been concerned by a misuse by child and teenagers of social networking services, particularly in relation to online sexual predators. A certain number of actions have been engaged by governments to better understand the problem and find some solutions.[specify]
A 2008 panel concluded that technological fixes such as age verification and scans are relatively ineffective means of apprehending online predators. In May 2010, a child pornography social networking site with hundreds of members was dismantled by law enforcement. It was deemed "the largest crimes against children case brought anywhere by anyone."
- Main article: Troll (Internet)
A common misuse of social networking sites such as Facebook is that it is occasionally used to emotionally abuse individuals. Such actions are often referred to as trolling. It is not rare for confrontations in the real world to be translated online.  Trolling can occur in many different forms, such as (but not limited to) defacement of deceased person(s) tribute pages, name calling, playing online pranks on volatile individuals and controversial comments with the intention to cause anger and cause arguments. Trolling is not to be confused with cyber-bullying.
Online bullying, also called cyber-bullying, is a relatively common occurrence and it can often result in emotional trauma for the victim. Depending on the networking outlet, up to 39% of users admit to being “cyber-bullied”. Danah Boyd, a researcher of social networks quotes a teenager in her article, Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites. The teenager expresses frustration towards networking sites like MySpace because it causes drama and too much emotional stress. There are not many limitations as to what individuals can post when online. Inherently individuals are given the power to post offensive remarks or pictures that could potentially cause a great amount of emotional pain for another individual.
Interpersonal communication has been a growing issue as more and more people have turned to social networking as a means of communication. "Benniger (1987) describes how mass media has gradually replaced interpersonal communication as a socializing force. Further, social networking sites have become popular sites for youth culture to explore themselves, relationships, and share cultural artifacts". A Privacy Paradox Many teens and social networking users may be harming their interpersonal communication by using sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Stated by Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University Neuroscientist, "My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment."
As social networking sites have risen in popularity over the past years, people have been spending an excess amount of time on social networking sites and on the Internet in general. The excessive amount of time that people spend on social networking sites has led researchers to debate the establishment of Internet addiction as an actual clinical disorder.  Social networking can also affect the extent to which a person feels lonely. In a Newsweek article, Johannah Cornblatt explains “Social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace may provide people with a false sense of connection that ultimately increases loneliness in people who feel alone.” John T. Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, claims that social networking can foster feelings of sensitivity to disconnection, which can lead to loneliness. 
- See also: Online dating service
Many social networks provide an online environment for people to communicate and exchange personal information for dating purposes. Intentions can vary from looking for a one time date, short-term relationships, and long-term relationships.
Most of these social networks, just like online dating services, require users to give out certain pieces of information. This usually includes a user's age, gender, location, interests, and perhaps a picture. Releasing very personal information is usually discouraged for safety reasons. This allows other users to search or be searched by some sort of criteria, but at the same time people can maintain a degree of anonymity similar to most online dating services. Online dating sites are similar to social networks in the sense that users create profiles to meet and communicate with others, but their activities on such sites are for the sole purpose of finding a person of interest to date. Social networks do not necessarily have to be for dating; many users simply use it for keeping in touch with friends, and colleagues.
However, an important difference between social networks and online dating services is the fact that online dating sites usually require a fee, where social networks are free. This difference is one of the reasons the online dating industry is seeing a massive decrease in revenue due to many users opting to use social networking services instead. Many popular online dating services such as Match.com, Yahoo Personals, and eHarmony.com are seeing a decrease in users, where social networks like MySpace and Facebook are experiencing an increase in users.
The number of Internet users in the U.S. that visit online dating sites has fallen from a peak of 21% in 2003 to 10% in 2006. Whether its the cost of the services, the variety of users with different intentions, or any other reason, it is undeniable that social networking sites are quickly becoming the new way to find dates online.
The National School Boards Association reports that almost 60 percent of students who use social networking talk about education topics online and, surprisingly, more than 50 percent talk specifically about schoolwork. Yet the vast majority of school districts have stringent rules against nearly all forms of social networking during the school day — even though students and parents report few problem behaviors online.
Social networks focused on supporting relationships between teachers and their students are now used for learning, educator professional development, and content sharing. Ning for teachers, Learn Central, TeachStreet and other sites are being built to foster relationships that include educational blogs, eportfolios, formal and ad hoc communities, as well as communication such as chats, discussion threads, and synchronous forums. These sites also have content sharing and rating features.
Social networks are also emerging as online yearbooks, both public and private. One such service is MyYearbook which allows anyone from the general public to register and connect. A new trend emerging are private label yearbooks only accessible by students, parents and teachers of a particular school similar to Facebook beginning within Harvard.
Social networks are beginning to be adopted by healthcare professionals as a means to manage institutional knowledge, disseminate peer to peer knowledge and to highlight individual physicians and institutions. The advantage of using a dedicated medical social networking site is that all the members are screened against the state licensing board list of practitioners.
The role of social networks is especially of interest to pharmaceutical companies who spend approximately "32 percent of their marketing dollars" attempting to influence the opinion leaders of social networks.
A new trend is emerging with social networks created to help its members with various physical and mental ailments. For people suffering from life altering diseases, PatientsLikeMe offers its members the chance to connect with others dealing with similar issues and research patient data related to their condition. For alcoholics and addicts, SoberCircle gives people in recovery the ability to communicate with one another and strengthen their recovery through the encouragement of others who can relate to their situation. DailyStrength is also a website that offers support groups for a wide array of topics and conditions, including the support topics offered by PatientsLikeMe and SoberCircle. SparkPeople offers community and social networking tools for peer support during weight loss.
Social and political applicationsEdit
Social networking sites have recently showed a value in social and political movements. In the Egyptian revolution, Facebook and Twitter both played a pivotal role in keeping people connected to the revolt. Egyptian activist have credited social networking sites with providing a platform for planning protest and sharing news from Tahrir Square in real time. By presenting a platform for thousands of people to instantaneously share videos of mainly events featuring brutality, social networking proves to be a vital tool in revolutions.
- Distributed social network
- Gender differences in social network service use
- Mobile social network
- Personal Network
- Social identity
- Social network
- Social networking in the Philippines
- Social software
- User profile
- Virtual community
- Boyd, Danah (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (1).
- Boyd, Danah (2006). Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Network Sites. First Monday 11 (12).
- Ellison, Nicole B. (2007). The benefits of Facebook "friends": Exploring the relationship between college students' use of online social networks and social capital. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (4).
- Fraser, Matthew (2008). Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World, Wiley.
- Mazer, J. P. (2007). I'll See You On "Facebook": The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate. Communication Education 56 (1): 1–17.
- ↑ http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112952/family-that-tweets-wsj?mod=family-kids_parents
- ↑ The Network Nation 2 by S. Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff (Addison-Wesley, 1978, 1993)
- ↑ Cotriss, David (2008-05-29). Where are they now: TheGlobe.com. The Industry Standard.
- ↑ Romm-Livermore, C. & Setzekorn, K. (2008). Social Networking Communities and E-Dating Services: Concepts and Implications. IGI Global. p.271
- ↑ http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html
- ↑ http://www.longislandpress.com/2010/09/30/from-friendster-to-myspace-to-facebook-the-evolution-and-deaths-of-social-networks/
- ↑ 
- ↑ Knapp, E. (2006). A Parent's Guide to Myspace. DayDream Publishers. ISBN 1-4196-4146-8
- ↑ Steve Rosenbush (2005). News Corp.'s Place in MySpace, BusinessWeek, July 19, 2005. (MySpace Page Views figures)
- ↑ "Social graph-iti": Facebook's social network graphing: article from The Economist's website. Retrieved on January 19, 2008.
- ↑ http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/05/31/cheap-smartphones-change-ri-internet-behavior-survey.html
- ↑ comScore. (2007). Social networking goes global. Reston, VA. Retrieved September 9, 2007 
- ↑ Mackaay, Ejan (1990). Economic Incentives in Markets for Information and Innovation. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 13 (909): 867–910.
- ↑ Heylighen, Francis (2007). "Why is Open Access Development so Successful?" B. Lutterbeck, M. Barwolff, and R. A. Gehring Open Source Jahrbuch, Lehmanns Media.
- ↑ Gross, R and Acquisti, A (2005). Information Revelation and Privacy in Online Social Networks (The Facebook case). Pre-proceedings version. ACM Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society (WPES)
- ↑ danah boyd, (2007), Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites, MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning - Youth, Identity, and Digital Media Volume (ed. David Buckingham). MIT Press
- ↑ "A New Generation Reinvents Philanthropy", Wall Street Journal website.
- ↑ includeonly>"Half of employees banned from Facebook at work", The Daily Telegraph, 2011-05-11.
- ↑ http://news.searchofficespace.com/sos-news/50-of-british-employers-have-banned-facebook-from-the-office-what-do-you-think.html
- ↑ Search for "e-commerce, social networking". Google Trends. Accessed 26 October 2009.
- ↑ http://mashable.com/2011/02/14/facebook-photo-infographic/?asid=c228f21b
- ↑ MG Siegler Jan 15, 2010. Yelp Enables Check-Ins On Its iPhone App; Foursquare, Gowalla Ousted As Mayors. Techcrunch.com. URL accessed on 2011-03-13.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Nimetz, Jody. "Jody Nimetz on Emerging Trends in B2B Social Networking". Marketing Jive, November 18, 2007. Accessed 26 October 2009.
- ↑ Liebeskind, Julia Porter, et al. "Social Networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms". Organization Science, Vol. 7, No. 4 (July–August 1996), pp. 428–443.
- ↑ includeonly>Carlson, Ben. "March 2.0: Success of the National Equality March relied on social media tools", Media Bullseye, April 28, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-04-29.
- ↑ Arabie, Phipps, and Yoram Wind. "Marketing and Social Networks". In Stanley Wasserman and Joseph Galaskiewicz, Advances in Social Network Analysis: Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1994, pp. 254–273. ISBN 0-8039-4302-4
- ↑ Social network launches worldwide spam campaign E-consultancy.com, Accessed 10 September 2007
- ↑ Moreno MA, Fost NC, Christakis DA (2008). Research ethics in the MySpace era. Pediatrics 121 (1): 157–61.
- ↑ David Rosenblum (2007). What Anyone Can Know: The Privacy Risks of Social Networking Sites.
- ↑ Henry Jenkins and Danah Boyd. Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). URL accessed on 2006-05-26.
- ↑ Susan B. Barnes. A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States.
- ↑ includeonly>BBC. "Social Network Sites 'Monitored'", BBC News, 2009-03-25. Retrieved on 2009-03-25.
- ↑ (2008). Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies.; Mangu-Ward, Katherine (May 2009). MySpace = Safe Space. Reason 41 (1).
- ↑ Wilson, Charles (May 27, 2010). Child porn 'social networking site' busted by feds.
- ↑ Computer Science Illuminated
- ↑ Boyd, Danah. "Why Youth (Heart) Social Networking Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life." Dokutech Eres. Web. <http://eres.ucsc.edu/eres/coursepage.aspx?cid=3840&page=docs#>.
- ↑ includeonly>Derbyshire, David. "Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist", Daily Mail, 24 February 2009.
- ↑ CBS "Social Networking: An Internet Addiction?", CBS News, June 24, 2008. cbsnews.com. URL accessed on 2011-05-13.
- ↑ Cornblatt, Johannah, "Lonely Planet", Newsweek, August 21, 2009. newsweek.com. URL accessed on 2011-05-13.
- ↑ MySpace, Facebook Add Opportunity for Love, Trouble to Online Dating, FoxNews.com website.
- ↑ MySpace Adds a Security Monitor, NPR.com website.
- ↑ Online Dating: Can Social Networks Cut In?, internetnews.com website.
- ↑ Online Dating vs. Social Networking – Which Will Emerge as Premier Matchmaker?, WRAL.com website.
- ↑ Social networks vs. dating sites Commentary: Fragmenting may save online dating sites, marketwatch.com website.
- ↑ Seeking Love Around The Web , Forbes.com website.
- ↑ learncentral.org
- ↑ Social Networking: Now Professionally Ready, PrimaryPsychiatry.com website.
- ↑ Social Networks Impact the Drugs Physicians Prescribe According to Stanford Business School Research, Pharmalive.com website.
- ↑ Comprehensive listing of medical applications using social networking via Dose of Digital
- ↑ includeonly>Sutter, John D.. "The faces of Egypt's 'Revolution 2.0'", 21 Feb 2011. Retrieved on 13 May 2011.
- Alemán, Ana M. Martínez; Wartman, Katherine Lynk, "Online social networking on campus: understanding what matters in student culture", New York and London : Routledge, 1st edition, 2009. ISBN 0-415-99019-X
- Barham, Nick, Disconnected: Why our kids are turning their backs on everything we thought we knew, 1st ed., Ebury Press, 2004. ISBN 0-09-189586-3
- Baron, Naomi S., Always on : language in an online and mobile world, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-531305-5
- Cockrell, Cathy, "Plumbing the mysterious practices of 'digital youth': In first public report from a 'seminal' study, UC Berkeley scholars shed light on kids' use of Web 2.0 tools", UC Berkeley News, University of California, Berkeley, NewsCenter, 28 April 2008
- Kelsey, Todd (2010), Social Networking Spaces: From Facebook to Twitter and Everything In Between, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 9781430225966, http://books.google.ca/books?id=1EgTu8fFMJgC&lpg=PP1&ots=HUuksBAE9m&dq=Social%20Networking%20Spaces%3A%20From%20Facebook%20to%20Twitter%20and%20Everything%20In%20Between&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=true
- Davis, Donald Carrington, "MySpace Isn't Your Space: Expanding the Fair Credit Reporting Act to Ensure Accountability and Fairness in Employer Searches of Online Social Networking Services", 16 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 237 (2007).
- Else, Liz; Turkle, Sherry. "Living online: I'll have to ask my friends", New Scientist, issue 2569, 20 September 2006. (interview)
- Glaser, Mark, Your Guide to Social Networking Online," PBS MediaShift, August 2007
- Powers, William, Hamlet’s Blackberry : a practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age, 1st ed., New York : Harper, 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-168716-7
- Video on the History of social networks by WikiLecture
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