A social networking service (also social networking site, SNS or social media) is an online platform that people use to build social networks or social relations with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections. The variety of stand-alone and built-in social networking services currently available online introduces challenges of definition; however, some common features exist:
- social networking services are Internet-based applications
- user-generated content (UGC) is the lifeblood of SNS organisations. Online community services are sometimes considered social-network services, though in a broader sense, a social-network service usually provides an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, digital photos and videos, posts, and to inform others about online or real-world activities and events with people in their network. While in-person social networking – such as gathering in a village market to talk about events – has existed since the earliest development of towns, the Web enables people to connect with others who live in different locations, ranging from across a city to across the world. Depending on the social media platform, members may be able to contact any other member. In other cases, members can contact anyone they have a connection to, and subsequently anyone that contact has a connection to, and so on. LinkedIn, a career-oriented social-networking service, generally requires that a member personally know another member in real life before they contact them online. Some services require members to have a preexisting connection to contact other members.
The main types of social networking services contain category places
(such as former school-year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and a recommendation system linked to trust. One can categorize social-network services into three types:
- socializing social network services used primarily for socializing with existing friends (e.g., Facebook)
- networking social network services used primarily for non-social interpersonal communication (e.g., LinkedIn, a career- and employment-oriented site)
- social navigation social network services used primarily for helping users to find specific information or resources (e.g., Goodreads for books)
There have been attempts to standardize these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries of friends and interests (see the FOAF standard). A study reveals that India recorded world's largest growth in terms of social media users in 2013.
A 2013 survey found that 73% of U.S. adults use social-networking sites.
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