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Growing Social Networking



Don't you have one or all of Facebook, Twitter, myspace, orkut accounts? If so, you must be from nineteenth century. This is the trend these days.

Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision, if you will. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online. This is because unlike most high schools, colleges, or workplaces, the internet is filled with millions of individuals who are looking to meet other people, to gather and share first-hand information and experiences about any number of topics...from golfing, gardening, developing friendships and professional alliances.

When it comes to online social networking, websites are commonly used. These websites are known as social sites. Social networking websites function like an online community of internet users. Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members share common interests in hobbies, religion, or politics. Once you are granted access to a social networking website you can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them. You can organize and combine all of your online profiles into one at http://www.whzzz.com/.

The friends that you can make are just one of the many benefits to social networking online. Another one of those benefits includes diversity because the internet gives individuals from all around the world access to social networking sites. This means that although you are in the United States, you could develop an online friendship with someone in Denmark. Not only will you make new friends, but you just might learn a thing or two about new cultures or new languages and learning is always a good thing.

As mentioned, social networking often involves grouping specific individuals or organizations together. While there are a number of social networking websites that focus on particular interests, there are others that do not. The websites without a main focus are often referred to as "traditional" social networking websites and usually have open memberships. This means that anyone can become a member, no matter what their hobbies, beliefs, or views are. However, once you are inside this online community, you can begin to create your own network of friends and eliminate members that do not share common interests or goals.

As I'm sure you're aware, there are dangers associated with social networking including data theft and viruses, which are on the rise. The most prevalent danger though often involves online predators or individuals who claim to be someone that they are not. Although danger does exist with networking online, it also exists with networking out in the real world, too. Just like you're advised when meeting strangers at clubs and bars, school, or work -- you are also advised to proceed with caution online. By being aware of your cyber-surroundings and who you are talking to, you should be able to safely enjoy social networking online. It will take many phone conversations to get to know someone, but you really won't be able to make a clear judgment until you can meet each other in person. Just use common sense and listen to your inner voice; it will tell you when something doesn't feel right about the online conversations taking place.

Once you are well informed and comfortable with your findings, you can begin your search from hundreds of networking communities to join. This can easily be done by performing a standard internet search. Your search will likely return a number of results, including MySpace, FriendWise, FriendFinder, Yahoo! 360, Facebook, Orkut, and Classmates.


Issues on Social Networking Sites

Privacy On large social networking services, there have been growing concerns about users giving out too much personal information and the threat of sexual predators. Users of these services 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.

Access to information Many social networking services, such as Facebook, provide the user with a choice of who can view their profile. This prevents unauthorized user(s) from accessing their information. Parents have become a big problem to teens who want to avoid their parents to access their MySpace or Facebook accounts. By choosing to make their profile private, teens are able to select who can see their page and this prevents unwanted parents from lurking. This will also mean that only people who are added as "friends" will be able to view the profile.

Risk for child safety Citizens and governments have been concerned by a misuse by child and teenagers of social network 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. A 2008 panel concluded that technological fixes such as age verification and scans are relatively ineffective means of apprehending online predators.

Potential for misuse The relative freedom afforded by social networking services has caused concern regarding the potential of its misuse by individual patrons. In October 2006, a fake Myspace profile created in the name of Josh Evans by Lori Janine Drew led to the suicide of Megan Meier. The event incited global concern regarding the use of social networking services for bullying purposes.


Twitter to Compete With Ever-Expanding Facebook Connect

Facebook's Connect system, the unseen code that makes logging into many other Web sites much easier, marches on--it's just reached MySpace for example. But Twitter isn't planning on being left out, and it's improving its own version.

Facebook Connect has come so very far since its mid-2008 launch, and it's been so very successful it's basically stamped out competing services from Google. And now there's news that it's hitting MySpace--which is an even more potent demonstration of Connect's power, since MySpace was a vicious Facebook rival in the early days, and it actually had its own competing service just two years ago. The new effort is all part of MySpace's desperate scramble to resurrect itself from a ruined social network into a social media-sharing service, and though it brings all the traditional advantages of Connect (easy log in, widgets) it's sure to be a slightly bitter pill for MySpace's management. For now Connect is mainly tied to the Fan Video system inside MySpace--where it lets you share music videos with your friends--but it wouldn't be surprising to see it more fully integrated into MySpace soon.

Meanwhile Twitter, Facebook's newest rival on the social network scene, is apparently determined to get into the same sort of cross-Web site login business that Connect operates in. Various code hooks and libraries to make it all possible are already embedded in Twitter's API, but over at TechCrunch they've heard from insiders that Twitter wants to wrap it all up in a much more user-friendly package. The idea is that if Twitter makes it super-easy for Web site managers to add in Twitter logins and sophisticated status-updating connects back to Twitter to their sites, the system will get used more. Which will drive more users and traffic to Twitter, of course...and that'll push up its importance in the real-time status update market (where Twitter may have just turned its first profits.)

One advantage of Twitter's system is that it is an open format, compared to Facebook's proprietary Connect code, and that may prove attractive to some. But exactly how well Twitter will fare with its efforts is impossible to predict. What is clear though is that where social networking was once seen as a strange time wasting bit of online fun, the systems that make it possible are carefully insinuating their way deeper into the workings of the Web--and they're actually delivering additional, useful services as a result.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals. It can be used quite effectively to find work and is also great for recruiting. They recently upgraded some aspects of their site to cater specifically to recruiters as well. You can find work there as well as find someone to do work for you. LinkedIn currently has around 40-45 million users and growing and that certainly provides a lot of opportunity for anyone looking to find a job through this platform.

However it is a bit different then Facebook or Twitter in that it requires a bit more etiquette to use properly. It is a platform that many use to showcase their skills and grow their professional network as opposed to their personal network.

While the other two are about networking, LinkedIn is about networking professionally. You won't get away with adding people randomly. You have to pick the right people and when you do send an invitation give them a good reason to accept your invitation. Adding someone just to add them just isn't going to fly here. With that said, LinkedIn is great for networking with highly professional people. You can make some great connections on this platform. In a way, not being able to add everyone makes it that much more dynamic, you will end up with better quality people.

But if you walk into LinkedIn thinking you can add anyone and everyone you will soon find out that's a big mistake. You will probably end up being blocked if you start adding people without considering first whether or not they fit into your circle of network.

It's a bit restrictive in a sense, but in the end it makes for high quality connections.

Twitter

Remember those crazy days of e-mail when you couldn't send messages between systems? Microsoft Mail customers could only send mail within their enterprise or to other customers of Microsoft Mail (ditto for the other systems). It wasn't until SMTP standardized things that e-mail could move between systems.

E-mail was interesting then, but it didn't really become dominant until it standardized around the SMTP messaging protocol. Are we experiencing the same thing with Twitter? No Twitter is an island, entire of itself...

(Credit: Twitter) Twitter has become hugely popular, but it remains a closed communication medium. Yes, it has opened its data stream and maintains an open API approach to its development, but Twitter is still a silo.

Yes, it's a big (and growing) silo, but then, so were AOL and Compuserve in their day.

There is a better way, and it's arguably the direction the industry is going to need to take for microblogging services like Twitter to become as big as e-mail. We need to standardize. We need an SMTP-like standard for microblogging.

And, frankly, we need an open-source implementation. Open-source Sendmail was arguably the first messaging system to embrace SMTP. Sendmail gave would-be e-mail adopters a free (as in cost and freedom) e-mail system to explore, which led to Sendmail becoming the world's most popular message transfer agent.

Microblogging could use the same, and StatusNet's open-source micro-blogging software could well play that role. StatusNet is the company behind Identi.ca, the microblogging platform favored by the free and open-source crowd.

In terms of public blogging, Identi.ca is still more a curiosity than a real contender with Twitter. But, as in e-mail, it's probably not wise to underestimate the value of an open-source approach to standardizing microblogging intercommunications, particularly as microblogging enters the enterprise.

For example, enterprises that want to move beyond Twitter's one-size-fits-all approach to microblogging might prefer Yammer's microblogging-behind-the-firewall approach, an approach that StatusNet also offers. But StatusNet takes it further by enabling enterprises to set up a micro-blogging service that customers, employees, and partners could collaborate on. A private-public microblogging network, as it were, and completely based on open source and standards.

AOL once sat atop the consumer e-mail world, even as Twitter dominates microblogging today. Eventually, standards won out in e-mail. I expect we'll see much the same thing in microblogging. The question is, how long will it take?


Facebook

Facebook was founded by 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and originally called thefacebook. It was quickly successful on campus and expanded beyond Harvard into other Ivy League schools. With the phenomenon growing in popularity, Zuckerberg enlisted two other students, Duston Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, to assist. Within months, thefacebook became a nationwide college networking website.

Zuckerberg and Moskovitz left Harvard to run thefacebook full time shortly after taking the site national. In August of 2005, thefacebook was renamed Facebook, and the domain was purchased for a reported $200,000 US Dollars (USD). At that time, it was only available to schools, universities, organizations, and companies within English speaking countries, but has since expanded to include anyone.

Facebook users create a profile page that shows their friends and networks information about themselves. The choice to include a profile in a network means that everyone within that network can view the profile. The profile typically includes the following: Information, Status, Friends, Friends in Other Networks, Photos, Notes, Groups, and The Wall.

Users are able to search for friends and acquaintances by e-mail address, school, university, or just by typing in a name or location for search. When people become friends, they are able to see all of each others' profiles including contact information. E-mail notifications let users know when new friends have chosen to add them to their list or when someone has sent a message to them within the system.

A popular feature on Facebook is the ability to share photographs uploaded from a phone, camera, or hard drive. As with other private information, users have the option to allow only friends to see their pictures or anyone. There is an unlimited amount of storage available, which is a major advantage of Facebook's photograph sharing capabilities.

Groups can be created by users. These can include anything from grade school connections to hobbies and interests. Groups can be public and available to everyone or private, meaning only those invited can join and view discussions. Similarly, the Events feature allows friends to organize parties, concerts, and other get togethers in the real world. Users can also become fans of everything such as people, organizations, television shows, movies, and musicians.

There are countless applications available to add to a profile. They range from a list of Top Friends to movie compatibility with others, and maps of where users have traveled. These applications are created by individuals outside of Facebook's employment who are known as Developers.

Users of Facebook can share news stories, video, and other files with friends. Most news and video websites have buttons that can be clicked to automatically share the story or video on a feed. The person sharing can make comments about the shared item that their friends will see.

Personal notes can also be written and shared with friends. When sharing an item, users can attach the item to their Wall for all to see, or can tag individual people that they think would be most interested in seeing the item. When a user is tagged, they receive an e-mail notification.

Facebook had a redesign in late 2008, intended to streamline the website and make it easier to see what friends were doing. It has seen outstanding growth since its inception and is poised to maintain its dominance in social networking. In early 2009, Facebook users worldwide were nearly double that of its older competitor MySpace.
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