social network service focuses on the building
and verifying of online social networks for communities
of people who share interests and activities,
or who are interested in exploring the interests
and activities of others, and which necessitates
the use of software.
social network services are primarily web based
and provide a collection of various ways for users
to interact, such as chat, messaging, email, video,
voice chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion
groups, and so on.
main types of social networking services are those
which contain directories of some categories (such
as former classmates), means to connect with friends
(usually with self-description pages), and recommender
systems linked to trust. Popular methods now combine
many of these, with MySpace, Bebo and Facebook
being the most widely used in the anglosphere
and Friendster being the most widely used in Asia.
have been some attempts to standardize them but
this has led to some privacy concerns.
of social network services
notion that individual computers linked electronically
could form the basis of computer mediated social
interaction and networking was suggested early
on - for example The Network Nation by S. Roxanne
Hiltz and Murray Turoff (Addison-Wesley, 1978,
1993) effectively sketched out how computer-mediated
communication -- such as the Internet -- should
be developed for this purpose.
were many early efforts to support social networks
via computer-mediated communication, including
Usenet, bulletin board services (BBS), Arpanet,
and EIES: Murray Turoff's server-based Electronic
Information Exchange Service (Turoff and Hiltz,
1978, 1993). The Information Routing Group developed
a schema about how the proto-Internet might support
social networking websites included Classmates.com
(1995), focusing on ties with former school mates,
and SixDegrees.com (1997), focusing on indirect
ties. Two different models of social networking
that came about in 1999 were trust-based, developed
by Epinions.com, and friendship-based, such as
those developed by Jonathan Bishop and used on
some regional UK sites between 1999 and 2001.
Innovations included not only showing who is "friends"
with whom, but giving users more control over
content and connectivity. By 2005, one social
networking service MySpace, was reportedly getting
more page views than Google, with Facebook, a
competitor, rapidly growing in size. In 2007,
Facebook began allowing externally-developed add-on
applications, and some applications enabled the
graphing of a user's own social network -- thus
linking social networks and social networking.
networking began to flourish as a component of
business internet strategy at around March 2005
when Yahoo launched Yahoo! 360°. In July 2005
News Corporation bought MySpace, followed by ITV
(UK) buying Friends Reunited in December 2005.
It is estimated that combined there are now over
200 social networking sites using these existing
and emerging social networking models.
networks connect people at low cost; this can
be beneficial for entrepreneurs and small businesses
looking to expand their contact base. These networks
often 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
operate globally, social networks can make it
easier to keep in touch with contacts around the
world. In many ways business networking on social
networks has eclipsed the amount of networking
that takes place on dedicated business networking
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.
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
Languages, nationalities and academia
social networking sites have sprung up catering
to different languages and countries. The popular
site Facebook has been cloned for various countries
and languages and some specializing in connecting
students and faculty.
Social networks for social good
websites are beginning to tap into the power of
the social networking model for social good. Such
models may be highly successful for connecting
otherwise fragmented industries and small organizations
without the resources to reach a broader audience
with interested and passionate users. Users benefit
by interacting with a like minded community and
finding a channel for their energy and giving.
Examples include SixDegrees.org (Kevin Bacon).
structure of a social networking service
general, social networking services, such as MySpace,
Facebook and Bebo, allow users to create a profile
for themselves. Users can upload a picture of
themselves and can often be "friends"
with other users. In most social networking services,
both users must confirm that they are friends
before they are linked. For example, if Alice
lists Bob as a friend, then Bob would have to
approve Alice's friend request before they are
listed as friends. Some social networking sites
have a "favorites" feature that does
not need approval from the other user. Social
networks usually have privacy controls that allows
the user to choose who can view their profile
or contact them, etc.
social networks have additional features, such
as the ability to create groups that share common
interests or affiliations, upload videos, and
hold discussions in forums. Geosocial networking
co-opts internet mapping services to organize
user participation around geographic features
and their attributes.
social networks currently charge money for membership.
In part, this may be because social networking
is a relatively new service, and the value of
using them has not been firmly established in
customers' minds. Companies such as MySpace and
Facebook sell online advertising on their site.
Hence, they are seeking large memberships, and
charging for membership would be counter productive.
Some believe that the deeper information that
the sites have on each user will allow much better
targeted advertising than any other site can currently
provide. Sites are also seeking other ways to
make money, such as by creating an online marketplace
(Facebook's Marketplace) or by selling professional
information and social connections to businesses:
such as LinkedIn.
networks operate under an autonomous business
model, in which a social network's members serve
dual roles as both the suppliers and the consumers
of content. This is in contrast to a traditional
business model, where the suppliers and consumers
are distinct agents. Revenue is typically gained
in the autonomous business model via advertisements,
but subscription-based revenue is possible when
membership and content levels are sufficiently
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, often work with law
enforcement to try to prevent such incidents.
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.
there is an issue over the control of data - information
having been altered or removed by the user may
in fact be retained and/or passed to 3rd 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.
Use of social network websites in investigations
network services are increasingly being used in
legal and criminal investigations. Information
posted on sites such as MySpace and Facebook,
has been used by police, probation, and university
officials to prosecute users of said sites. In
some situations, content posted on MySpace has
been used in court to determine an appropriate
sentence based on a defendant's attitude.
is increasingly being used by school administrations
and law enforcement agencies as a source of evidence
against student users. The site, the number one
online destination for college students, allows
users to create profile pages with personal details.
These pages can be viewed by other registered
users from the same school which often include
resident assistants and campus police who have
signed-up for the service. (Credit: