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Social Networking Sites are increasingly becoming popular, attracting the attention of millions of users by functioning like an online community. These sites are web based services that allow individuals to create a public/private profile on one or more sites. Users once registered can input their personal data including photos and videos. This then allows them to interact with other users with whom they want to share a common interest or view point. Currently there are thousands of different social networking sites operating worldwide that offer a variety of features aimed at an assortment of different subject groups.
Therefore the social networking sites works by collecting profiles of users who are registered. Once they collect information, this data is open to other members of the group or community for which the user is registered.
Internet is considered as a part of our life in today's world. Through internet, people can interact with other person from anywhere in the world. There are no divisional and setbacks to prevent people from interacting. Social networking websites are very popular nowadays especially within teenagers. Millions of users incorporate these sites into their daily lives by checking their profile several times a day and getting updates from friends and families time to time. Almost all the online users are members of either one or more social networking websites. In my own words, I would describe these sites as an online utility that enables users to communicate actively with other members and friends by allowing individuals to set up an account and describing his/her own interests. Once the account is created, users are then able to post personal information including photographs, videos and blog entries in their account. The way user interacts with other person depends on features that each social networking websites offer. Some of those features include instant messaging, video calling, chatting, emails, blogging, group discussions, file sharing and so on.
The social networking websites are classified into different categories. While most of the sites are based on general purpose, some of the sites are based on specific theme. A few of these categories are discussed below.
Category 1 - General Interest
These sites are for general purpose where a user can keep contact with old friend, or make a new friend. These sites also enable user to comment on other member messages/views. Below are some of the top general purpose sites.
Facebook: This site allows users to have contact with friends, family around them. Currently facebook is most popular networking site among teenagers.
Orkut: Similar to facebook, Orkut also provides its users to meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. This website is owned by Google Inc.
Twitter: This website enables its users to send and read other user messages called tweets. This site is sometimes described as the "SMS of the internet".
Category 2 - Specific Interest
These sites are based on specific themes which are aimed at certain kinds of groups. Below are some of the theme based network sites.
LinkedIn: It is a business-oriented network where members invite people to be "connections" instead of "friends." This is mainly used for professional networking. The purpose of this website is to allow its users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. It can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one's contact network. Employers use these sites to post job vacancies in their companies.
Last.fm: This networking site is based on Music. Registered Users will be able to post in the Last.fm forums, send and receive private messages and use the Last.fm client music player.
Flixster: This is a social movie site allowing users to share movie ratings, discover new movies and meet others with similar movie taste.
Benefits of Social Networking Websites
Using social networking sites, we can develop friendship with people online all around the world. Not only we can make new friends but we will get an opportunity to learn about new languages, cultures of other countries. Social networking websites mostly involves either specific individuals or organizations together. For individuals, these sites provide better ways to keep in touch with friends, families. Also one can increase their group of contacts that can go beyond geographical and cultural differences as they can meet people who share your interests from almost all sides of world. We can share messages within seconds with the person sitting at distant places. One can also create and share blogs with friends and families by providing links to them.
Thus, social networking sites have been quite effective in facilitating making new friends or enabling old friend after years of lack of communications. Hence social networking sites can be great way to stay in touch with large groups of people.
On the other side, businesses and organizations can use these sites to promote their websites, products and services widely. News channels provide updates to public with recent and up-to-date news about events and activities around the world.
Disadvantages of Social Networking Websites
Even though there are lot of advantages of these sites, there are dangers also associated with this. The main consequence will be identity theft and fraud of personal data which is on rise. The names, addresses, email id's, age and so on are personal information that a user can give out and fraudsters use this information in performing illegal activities. There are also many people who pretend to be someone else and are using these sites to make a business deal. But the truth is that they will rob money out of another user.
Another danger would be meeting strangers online. The main concern from these people is online harassment. They use the information available on user's profile.
Some fake advertisements can invite users to unwanted viruses to their computers.
Nowadays, professional companies are referring online profile while judging people at the time of interviews.
Social networking sites are an online community that has users registered from all around the world. As seen above there are both pros and cons from using this sites.
Therefore one must be very careful while providing personal data online. Nowadays all the social networking websites are offering an option of privacy. By using this option, one can restrict the entry of unwanted users and unknown users.
We may get many requests for adding as friends or joining different communities. It is always better to know as much as information about them before adding anyone as friend or joining any community. Otherwise there is a possibility that we may become a victim of fake identity which may spoil your image.