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  • What are blogs, chat room, and social networking sites and virtual worlds?
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According to PCmag.com a social networking site is "a web site that provides a virtual community for people to share their daily activities with family and friends, or to share their interest in a particular topic, or to increase their circle of acquaintances."  They help people build social groups and reflect on the social relations among people who share interests and/or activities. This definition of social network encompasses a wide array of different types of social networking sites such as blogs, chat rooms, wikis dating sites, virtual worlds like Second Life, video and photo-sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube, social networking sites based on casual relationships like Facebook, and social networking sites built around professional relationships like LinkedIn.

These social networking sites share many common features.  For instance, members usually create some sort of online "profile" with biographical data, pictures and other information they wish to post.  Some sites feature user profiles more prominently then others.  While YouTube users create profiles, they are not commonly viewed as a part of the viewers experience on the network.  On the other hand, Facebook places a premium on how our "profiles" are presented. Social networking sites also facilitate communication among group members through such platforms as public blog-like formats, e-mail messaging, instant messaging, voice or videoconferencing, picture sharing, and live news feeds.

The first social networking site, sixdegreesofseperation.com, opened its "doors" in 1997 and was followed by Friendster (www.friendster.com) in 2002 and MySpace (www.myspace.com) in 2003.  MySpace was purchased for around $580 million dollars by News Corporation just two years after its launch, a clear indication of the percieved social power behind networking sites.   Facebook, now the largest social networking service operating came online in 2004 and initially targeted college students.

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