Some of the most popular websites online today have to do with meeting friends and renewing old relationships – but what are social networking websites really about?
Social networking is nothing new – people have been meeting friends through friends in real life for centuries. The advent of the Internet, and especially the World Wide Web, has allowed people to meet new friends and acquaintances in more different places and in larger quantities than ever before. By simply putting up a profile listing your name, likes and dislikes, age, location and possibly a picture – you can meet as many people as you want all throughout the world.
Perhaps the best answer to what are social networking websites is to name a few of the most popular ones. The first popular social networking site was Classmates.com, started in 1995. This site was aimed at getting people together who had graduated high school, in more of a reunion format. Instead of being focused on building new relationships, Classmates sought to renew old ones. Through a pay service, old classmates could contact each other via email, and keep in contact years after they graduated college or high school.
After this sort of social networking became popular, other sites began to see the promise in social networking and finding new friends. Myspace.com is the most popular example of this type of site. Started in 2002 (along with another site called Friendster), this site utilizes a kind of technology known as Circle of Friends. You sign up for a site on the network, and people you know can find you – adding you to their Circle of Friends. You can then see their friends, and perhaps make new friends and acquaintances from among this circle.
Myspace and Friendster also encourage users to seek out new friends from within these social networks by allowing users to search for people with common interests. You can also find users who are in a similar age group, are of a similar religion, or live in your area. In this way, you can choose to expand your Circle of Friends more quickly than you might be able to in person.
It is safe to say that one of the answers to the question what are social networking sites is that they are the wave of the future. Today's teenagers and young adults often find their place among Internet society in these social networking groups.
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