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A social network service is social software specifically focused on the building and verifying of social networks for whatever purpose. Many social networking services are also blog hosting services. As of 2005, there are over three hundred known social networking web sites.
Governance questions that arise commonly in such services include:
- the right of the users to continue to interact as a group even if they individually leave the service
- the need for democratic structuring of administrative powers
- control over any internal economy or "points" awarded in the system
Social networks connect people with all different types of interests, and one area that is expanding in the use of these networks is the corporate environment. Businesses are beginning to use social networks as a means to connecting employees together and helping employees to build profiles. This makes them searchable and be connected to other business professionals. One example of a business social network is LinkedIn, a network that connects businesses by industry, functions, geography and areas of interest. Networks are usually free for businesses or at a low cost; this is very beneficial for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to expand their contact base. These networks act as a customer relationship management tool for companies selling products and services. Companies can also use social networks for advertising in the form of banners and text ads. Since businesses are expanding globally, social networks make it easier to keep in touch with other contacts around the world.