What is Social Networking?
Over recent years the world's media has been full of outlandish stories about internet millionaires and billionaires. Most of these stories are also accompanied by details about how quickly the fortune was amassed. Along with the glut of stories on these topics various buzz words have been used like "Facebook", "Twitter", "MySpace" and many more. If you don't spend a lot of time on the internet, or only use it for shopping on Amazon for example, then most likely the names of websites like those previously mentioned will not mean very much to you, but they are all very successful social networking sites that have made their owners many millions of dollars.
At its most basic social networking is the formation of social groups by individuals agreeing to associate together. Due to the internet being an almost completely global phenomenon these links formed between individuals are much easier to keep alive and active. Social networking sites enable a user to easily find and then keep in touch with school friends, workmates or expand their circle of friends by joining new groups arranged by interest.
This last category, groups formed by interest, has recently led to some real political change and interesting local events. An example of this recently was when a Facebook member organised 15,000 bikers to ride through Wootton Bassett, England, in order to support a charity for British troops. Politicians ignore social media at their peril.
The impact of social networking on political life even led British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to open a Facebook page of his own. This was received badly by the general public and led to many spoof sites also claiming to be the "real" Gordon Brown.
Safety and Security Concerns
Due to the massive popularity of social networking sites it is impossible to reserve a name as your own. This fact has unfortunately led to a large number of spoof sites, such as what happened with the British Prime Minister. This lack of authentication has caused a number of concerns, not least the care and protection of children from the interests of predatory paedophiles. It is entirely possible that the person you think you are talking to is someone else entirely.
Providing users are aware of the possible risks there should be no problem however. For the vast majority of member's networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are a great source of fun and new friends.
Leading Social Networking Sites
Facebook is currently the number one social networking site in the world with an estimated 400 million users. Facebook has shown year on year growth of over 100 percent with that growth currently showing little sign of coming to a halt. It is one of the longest established networking sites.
Twitter is a relative newcomer on the social networking scene but has acquired many millions of users. Twtter has grown by over 900% per annum recently and so may well come to overtake Facebook in terms of absolute numbers of users eventually, but it appears that over 40% of new Twitter accounts fall into disuse and so the growth may slow due to abandonment of accounts.