Opinion | Social Networking Sites – Pros and Cons (PART-1)

Social Networking is the grouping of individuals or organizations that have common objectives, interests and or activities. Social Networking exists as personal and direct social ties that link individuals who share similar values and beliefs. Social Networking also exists in impersonal, formal, and instrumental forms. However, Social Networking of today has reached new levels. Before the Internet Boom, Social Networking was restricted to Festivals and Social occasions like Marriages, Birthday’s, Religious Meetings, Conventions, Kitty Parties, Seminars, Exhibitions, Functions, Multi-Level Marketing Meetings etc. It was common for people to interact with each other under such platforms. One came to know about their neighbours or acquaintances within such Social Congregations. Most Social occasions were then mostly meant for Socialising unless there was a specification for a Social occasion. However, in modern times Social Networking has got a new meaning and a new repute. Though the meaning or definition of Social Networking is still the same it has acquired a ‘New Avatar’ and this ‘Avatar’ has been made possible by the Emergence of the Internet as a ‘Communication Facilitator’. Initially, Social Networking was promoted through Chat Rooms and Messengers which included the likes of Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger etc. and at the same time or so emerged Online Forums, Groups, Communities etc.

Types of Social Networking
Social Networking Tools
Top Social Networks
Pros of Social Networking
Cons of Social Networking
The Conclusion
But this was just the beginning, what really took Social Networking to new heights was the emergence of Social Network Service provided by various Social Networking Websites. One of the First Social Networking Websites was SixDegrees.com. It was named after the six degrees of separation concept and allowed users to list friends, family members and acquaintances both on the site and externally. Soon, a number of Social Networking Service Providers followed. Theglobe.com, Geocities, Tripod.com etc. provided personal webpage facility through easy-to-use publishing tools and free or inexpensive web-space. While some Social Network Sites like Classmates.com – took a different approach by simply having people link to each other via email addresses. With more new ideas, emerged new Social Networking Methods which were developed by the end of the 1990s. Many sites began to develop more advanced features for users to find and manage friends. This newer generation of Social Networking sites began to flourish with the emergence of Friendster in 2002. Friendster was followed by MySpace and Linked and finally, Bebo. However, it was MySpace that showcased Social Networking sites’ popularity. By 2005, MySpace was reportedly getting more page views than Google. Finally, Facebook, launched in 2004, has since become the largest Social Networking Site in the World. Today, it is estimated that there are over 200 active sites using a wide variety of Social Networking models.
Types of Social Networking
Friendship Social Networking: 
This is the basic Social Network Community. Friends or Friendship Social Networking is the most popular Social Networking. People love to make friends Online from all around the globe and these sites facilitate that. These Networks use a variety of methods to sustain the interests of the member by providing online features like flirting, teasing, poking, truth or dare, photo sharing and most of the things which make up a friendship in real life.

Some of the Friendship Social Networking: Friendster, Myspace, Friends reunited, Hi5.com, Joomla Social Network
Dating Social Networking: Social Networking Dating is the new mantra in the online world. This type of networking is one of the hottest types of Networking based on attraction towards the opposite sex. Some of these Websites provide free Social Networking Directory while others are paid. These Sites facilitate Dating especially for those who don’t have the skill to propose a date in the real world. 

Some of the Dating Social Networking: Date.com, Passions network, Datehookup, Chemistry.com
Business Social Networking: Business Social Networking is a tool for Social Network Marketing. It is also referred to as ‘Corporate Social Networking’ or ‘Professional Social Networks’. These Networks help a person to advance within his/her career or industry. Generally, Business Companies or Corporations have their own online community wherein employees can interact with each other. They can also answer questions or queries posted by customers, which can give a person a chance to impress his/her employer. If you’re a freelance copywriter, you may want to get involved in one of the many online writing communities where publishers and literary agents also tend to hang out.

Some of the Business Social Networking Sites: Canon Professional Photographer Community, LinkedIn Business Network, LPN, the Latino Professional Network, SixApart Professional Blogging Community
Hobbies Social Networking: People on the Internet are involved in various activities related to their favourite hobby or pastime. Such people use the Internet to conduct research on their favourite projects or topics of interest related to personal hobbies. Such like minded people either publish their own Website or join existing Websites related to their Hobbies and interact with people from around the world who share the same passion or interests.

Some of the Hobbies Social Networking Websites: Automotive Forums, GardenWeb, Music Social Network, Sports Pundit, Spout Film Lovers Community, YouTube Video Sharing, Flickr
Informational Social Networking: 
Informational Social Networking are those websites which provide answers to people on various topics. For example, if someone is looking to start a business, one needs to have information which involves a web search and it leads to the discovery of countless blogs, websites, and forums filled with people who are looking for the same kind of information. These websites offer possible answers and also offer to post a question. Informational communities are often linked to, from businesses like banks, retailers, and other companies that are using social networks as a way to interact with customers. In these social networks, there is a lot of ‘How-To’ style information and advice columns written by professionals.

Some of the Informational Social Networking Sites: Do-It-Yourself Community
EHow “How-To” Information, HGTV Discussion Forums, Investopedia

Educational Social Networking:  Educational Networks are mostly meant for students, though anyone can use them. Students collaborate with other students on academic projects, research or to interact with professors and teachers via blogs and classroom forums. Educational social networks are becoming extremely popular within the educational system today. Most of the Colleges and Universities have their personal Websites wherein only the students of respective Institutes can join. Some Alumni also have their own respective Websites. Some Educational Social Networking Websites:
ePALS – Connects school students from around the world to promote world peace.
GoIIT – Community for Students preparing for their School & Board Exams.
IIT Bombay Alumni – IIT Bombay Alumni can connect and network with each other online.
The Student Room – A UK-based student community.
The Math Forum – A large educational network for math students.
News Social Networking: These are large content websites where members publish news stories, commentary etc. These are involved in the dissemination of community content which if left unmonitored turns into a promotional gimmick filled with advertisements and self-promotion. Some of the News Social Networking Websites:
Yahoo! Voices (earlier known as Associated Content), Helium, NowPublic, Suite 101, Triond
Social Network Sites are increasingly attracting the attention of academic and industry researchers intrigued by their affordability and reach. Internet Social Networking is a Social Phenomena of the 21st Century and has become increasingly popular nowadays as there are a lot of sites that offer this service. Social Networking Companies are involved in Social Network Development through their sites that aim to build communities of people who share common interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Social Networking Websites not only provide Social Network Service for the people but they also enhance their services through Social Network Templates and Social Networking Tools. Some of these are Open Source Social Networking Software available on the Internet which can be downloaded for free.
Some of the Social Networking Tools:

Reference Tool – http://www.connotea.org/
Social Bookmarking Tool – http://www.del.icio.us/
Online Event Registration and Ticketing Tool – http://www.amiando.com/
Tools for Musicians – http://www.reverbnation.com/
Cataloguing Tool – http://www.librarything.com/
Top Social Networks
Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo, Friendster, Ning, Linkedin, Hi5, Orkut, Stumbleupon, Care2, Zorpia, Flixster, Classmates, Last.fm, Xanga, Badoo, Migente, Studivz, Del.icio.us, Meetup (To be continued)

– The writer can be reached at vkmalout@gmail.com

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