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What is Social Networking?

A social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on facilitating the building of social networks or social relations among people who, for example, share interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections. A social network service 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.

SOME SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITES
Top Social Networking Sites• • • • • • • • Facebook: Founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook was designed as a social networking site for Harvard
students. After spreading from Harvard through the university ranks and down into high school, Facebook was opened to the public in 2006. MySpace: Started in 2003, MySpace was a driving force in popularizing social networking and still maintains a large userbase. A highly customizable social network, MySpace continues to reposition itself in the industry. Twitter: What started out as a microblogging website has quickly grown into a social messaging platform and one of the top social networks in the world. Twitter is phenomenon that transcends social networking to provide an outlet for news, trends, buzz, and chat among many other uses. Ning: A social network for creating social networks, Ning takes the idea of groups to a whole new level. The ability to create your own community makes Ning a great home away from home for organizations and groups looking to fill the social void. Flixster: With a tagline of "stop watching bad movies," Flixster combines social networking with movie reviews. Last.fm: Billing itself as a social music site, Last.fm allows members to create their own radio station that learns what the person likes and suggests new music based on those interests. In addition to this, you can listen to the radio stations of friends and other Last.fm members. LinkedIn: A business-oriented social network, members invite people to be "connections" instead of "friends." Linkedin is a contact management system as well as a social network, and has a question-and-answer section similar to Yahoo! Answers. Xanga: A social blogging site that combines social networking elements with blogging. Members earn credits for participating in the site and can spend credits on various things such as buying mini-pictures to post in the comments of a friend's blog.

Social Networking Tools
Effective communication is a crucial part of social networking, either online or off line. The basic social networking tools required for online social networking are: • Computer access -A computer is needed to communicate effectively online. If you don’t have a personal computer, public libraries offer free access. • Internet connection – Several community locations offer wifi, free of charge. Some of the nationally known locations are McDonald’s, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble. • Email address – Google and yahoo offer free email accounts.

Advantages Of Social Networking
• A social network – is a platform, site or other online service focusing on building and creating networks. Some sites offer personal social relationship building, catering to individuals sharing mutual interests. Joining various networks offers many advantages of social networking. • A social network is – a social structure comprised of people (or organizations) called “nodes”. The group will be connected by one or more common bond such as friendship, common interests, mutual friends, family members, business, dislikes to name a few. • Social Network is the people with whom one is connected. Pertaining to some of the best social networking sites, these digital terms often refer to your friends (facebook), followers (twitter), readers (Blog) or subscribers (YouTube).

FACEBOOK

URL Type of site Registration Available language(s) Users Owner Created by

Facebook.com Social networking service Required Multilingual (70) 955 million (active June 2012) Facebook, Inc.      Mark Zuckerberg Eduardo Saverin Andrew McCollum Dustin Moskovitz Chris Hughes

Launched
Alexa rank Revenue Current status

February 4, 2004
2 (July 2012) $ 1,184 million (Q2, 2012) Active

Creating a facebook account :
Signing up for facebook is quite simple! Step1:Enter your name. Step 2:Enter your email id. Step 3:Choose a password. Step 4:Choose gender. Step 5:Enter your date of birth. Step 6:Click on the ‘sign up’ tab. That’s it! U have created a facebook account…. Now add friends , add profile picture, etc……….

User Profile Users can create profiles with photos, lists of personal interests, contact information, and other personal information. Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages and a chat feature. They can also create and join interest groups and "like pages" (called "fan pages" until April 19, 2010), some of which are maintained by organizations as a means of advertising. A 2012 Pew Internet and American Life study identified that between 20–30% of Facebook users are "power users" who frequently link, poke, post and tag themselves and others. Privacy Settings To allay concerns about privacy, Facebook enables users to choose their own privacy settings and choose who can see specific parts of their profile. The website is free to users, and generates revenue from advertising, such as banner adds. Facebook requires a user's name and profile picture (if applicable) to be accessible by everyone. Users can control who sees other information they have shared, as well as who can find them in searches, through their privacy settings. News Feed On September 6, 2006, a News Feed was announced, which appears on every user's homepage and highlights information including profile changes, upcoming events, and birthdays of the user's friends. This enabled spammers and other users to manipulate these features by creating illegitimate events or posting fake birthdays to attract attention to their profile or cause. Initially, the News Feed caused dissatisfaction among Facebook users; some complained it was too cluttered and full of undesired information, others were concerned that it made it too easy for others to track individual activities (such as relationship status changes, events, and conversations with other users). In response, Zuckerberg issued an apology for the site's failure to include appropriate customizable privacy features. Since then, users have been able to control what types of information are shared automatically with friends. Users are now able to prevent userset categories of friends from seeing updates about certain types of activities, including profile changes, Wall posts, and newly added friends. On February 23, 2010, Facebook was granted a patent on certain aspects of its News Feed. The patent covers News Feeds in which links are provided so that one user can participate in the same activity of another user. The patent may encourage Facebook to pursue action against websites that violate its patent, which may potentially include websites such as Twitter. One of the most popular applications on Facebook is the Photos application, where users can upload albums and photos. Facebook allows users to upload an unlimited number of photos, compared with other image hosting services such as Photobucket and Flickr, which apply limits to the number of photos that a user is allowed to upload. During the first years, Facebook users were limited to 60 photos per album. As of May 2009, this limit has been increased to 200 photos per album. Privacy settings can be set for individual albums, limiting the groups of users that can see an album. For example, the privacy of an album can be set so that only the user's friends can see the album, while the privacy of another album can be set so that all Facebook users can see it. Another feature of the Photos application is the ability to “tag", or label, users in a photo. For instance, if a photo contains a user's friend, then the user can tag the friend in the photo. This sends a notification to the friend that they have been tagged, and provides them a link to see the photo. On 7 June 2012, Facebook launched its App Center to its users. It will help the users in finding games and other applications with ease.

Facebook Notes Facebook Notes was introduced on August 22, 2006, a blogging feature that allowed tags and embeddable images. Users were later able to import blogs from Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger, and other blogging services. During the week of April 7, 2008, Facebook released a Comet-based instant messagingapplication called "Chat" to several networks, which allows users to communicate with friends and is similar in functionality to desktop-based instant messengers. Facebook launched gifts on February 8, 2007, which allows users to send virtual gifts to their friends that appear on the recipient's profile. Gifts cost $1.00 each to purchase, and a personalized message can be attached to each gift. On May 14, 2007, Facebook launched Marketplace, which lets users post free classified ads. Marketplace has been compared to Craigslist by CNET, which points out that the major difference between the two is that listings posted by a user on Marketplace are seen only by users in the same network as that user, whereas listings posted on Craigslist can be seen by anyone. On July 20, 2008, Facebook introduced "Facebook Beta", a significant redesign of its user interface on selected networks. The Mini-Feed and Wall were consolidated, profiles were separated into tabbed sections, and an effort was made to create a "cleaner" look. After initially giving users a choice to switch, Facebook began migrating all users to the new version starting in September 2008. On December 11, 2008, it was announced that Facebook was testing a simpler signup process. Facebook Username On June 13, 2009, Facebook introduced a "Usernames" feature, whereby pages can be linked with simpler URLs such as http://www.facebook.com/facebook instead of http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20531316728. Many new smartphones offer access to Facebook services through either their Web browsers or applications. An official Facebook application is available for the operating systems Android, iOS, and webOS. Nokia and Research In Motion both provide Facebook applications for their own mobile devices. More than 425 million active users access Facebook through mobile devices across 200 mobile operators in 60 countries. Facebook Messages On November 15, 2010, Facebook announced a new "Facebook Messages" service. In a media event that day, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "It's true that people will be able to have an @facebook.com email addresses, but it's not email". The launch of such a feature had been anticipated for some time before the announcement, with some calling it a "Gmail killer". The system, to be available to all of the website's users, combines text messaging, instant messaging, emails, and regular messages, and will include privacy settings similar to those of other Facebook services. Codenamed "Project Titan", Facebook Messages took 15 months to develop. In February 2011, Facebook began to use the hCalendar microformat to mark up events, and the hCard microformat for the events' venues, enabling the extraction of details to users' own calendar or mapping applications.

A facebook profile as seen on 2005

A facebook account with timeline as seen on 2011

Impact of facebook:
Facebook has affected the social life and activity of people in various ways. With its availability on many mobile devices, Facebook allows users to continuously stay in touch with friends, relatives and other acquaintances wherever they are in the world, as long as there is access to the Internet. It can also unite people with common interests and/or beliefs through groups and other pages, and has been known to reunite lost family members and friends because of the widespread reach of its network. One such reunion was between John Watson and the daughter he had been seeking for 20 years. They met after Watson found her Facebook profile. Another father-daughter reunion was between Tony Macnauton and Frances Simpson, who had not seen each other for nearly 48 years. Some argue that Facebook is beneficial to one's social life because they can continuously stay in contact with their friends and relatives, while others say that it can cause increased antisocial tendencies because people are not directly communicating with each other. Some studies have named Facebook as a source of problems in relationships. Several news stories have suggested that using Facebook can lead to higher instances of divorce and infidelity, but the claims have been questioned by other commentators.

Disadvantages of Social Networking
Social media is all over the online space today. No matter what you do, where you go and what you use, it is always shared on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Most of the Internet users spend at least an hour on social media platforms in a day. We know of the many advantages like connecting with people irrespective of the physical distance but are there any disadvantages of social networking sites that we are unaware of? Yes there are and this needs to be known to all of us. With a little care and awareness, we can still enjoy the social media revolution. Privacy Invasion When there were no social networking sites, keeping to your own self was easy. You didn’t have to create lists and decide what to share with whom every time you opened your mouth. Today, you add everyone on your social network friend list. We all have those nasty relatives, co-workers and friends of friends that we do not really get along with well, but add them anyway. Our personal life is exposed to everyone. Sometimes they come and leave comments that spoil the mood. One of the major disadvantages of social networking sites is that you lose control. You forget who is watching and it becomes difficult to share things with a selected number of people. An average Facebook user has more than 300 friends. It is hard to classify and manage them. Security Risk Even though some websites do have age restrictions, most kids and teenagers do use social media. They play games and come across many strangers in a day. These strangers might be good or bad people. One of the disadvantages of social networking sites for kids is that it exposes you to all sorts of people in very little time. Kids often face cyber bullying and other stressful situations because of such an exposure. Sometimes we end up giving information on these sites which can be misused and harm us physically or mentally. It is better to be in control and think twice before sharing anything important.