One of the basic human needs is socialization. With the rise in the Internet popularity, people got the possibility to satisfy their natural necessity in on-line communities, such as Internet forums, which then resulted in today’s global social networking. Nowadays social networks serve to express and share ideas, pictures and videos, make friends and keep in touch with the old ones, create groups of interest to share experiences about cooking, movies, handcrafting and other hobbies.
Facebook is known to almost every Internet user as the most talked-about social community. It has more than 900 million users. With Facebook, you can create your own personal profile, find and add friends, share statuses, photos, videos; give virtual gifts and even send real presents to a b-day person and so on and so forth.
But surely, there are many other social networking websites, apart from this one known worldwide. Some of these are specifically designed for sharing information, while others concentrate on sharing videos, music or pictures or unite members of a particular interest.
Below there is a list of the most popular and interesting, from the point of view of their orientation, social networks and their peculiarities.
Twitter takes second honorable place by popularity after Facebook having about 310,000,000 unique monthly visitors. It differs greatly from Facebook: in your own Twitter account, you can post and receive short messages, known as “Tweets”, invite and follow other members' posts. You can even create your own Twitter community by ‘following’ someone in order to receive their Tweets in your news feed or by being ‘followed’ by others in the same way. The key Twitter feature is the possibility to use so-called hashtags, a form of metadata tags, whose aim is to attract a larger audience. In other words, this is a way for people to search for tweets on the common topic.
LinkedIn is another social network worth mentioning. It is created for business professionals with the general aim to help its users find a job and connect them with potential business partners. This means that the most important part of your profile is your education and career information. So some network users do not hamper themselves with writing and sending traditional CV to their potential employers; they just send them a link to their LinkedIn profile and that's it. What is more, you can give and receive recommendations from your ex-bosses or colleagues that is of great help to HR agencies.
Instagram is a relatively new social networking site that appeared in autumn 2010. It is a smartphone app that allows you to take photos, apply various digital filters and share them with your Instagram and other social networks' friends. The square shape of all photos, in comparison with the usual 4:3 ratio, is the Instagram's distinct feature.
Classmates is quite an old social network, launched in 1995. It allows users to reconnect with old classmates. The site has a search engine that lets you find other people who went to the same school you did. There is a feature, some users regards as an advantage, some, on the contrary, a considerable drawback, which enables users to see all your page visitors. That means you cannot leave any page unnoticed and secretly check from time to time your ex' profile. As for the rest, Classmates is quite common: you have your own profile, share and see your friends' news and pictures, give presents (payed service), etc.
Foursquare is a geo-location based social network. The service, intended primarily for mobile devices that support geo-location, allows you to “check in” at various places with the application that offers you a list of places nearby. What you need to do is just click on the place that you are in at the moment and you can even write some remarks about this to recommend a good restaurant, for example, post and share the dish you are eating for other users to see and check out. Moreover, every time you “check in” at some location, you gain points or badges, and you can compete with your Foursquare friends in their maximum quantity.
Another social network Flixster is created specially for movie fans. As usual, you have your profile, add friends, but also you can discover new movies, write and share film reviews, rate movies and actors, get movie show times, view video clips and more.
Going further, I would like to mention MyHeritage. You won't find here new friends and any romantic adventurous. This is a family-oriented online portal and genealogy website. Family members can create their own family website: arrange family events, create family trees, share pictures and videos, search for ancestors... I am sure, such a site greatly contributes to a family reunion. And it is of special use to those relatives who live far from each other.
Badoo is one of the largest social communities in Europe with the firm intention to provide the easiest and fastest way for people to meet each other. In other words, it is a dating-focused service: its users can chat with each other, set up dates and rate each other's profile pictures. Badoo also includes the geographic proximity feature that identifies users’ locations, which lets users know if there are people nearby who may wish to meet. The age restriction is 18 and higher.
With so many networks to use, still more social sites are created with new unique features. For example, Socl. It is a new social network recently launched by Miscrosoft, which concentrates on designing amazing collages on a specific topic from various content and allows presenting them to the public eye. Clicking on this content leads to the source site. Selection of related articles may be on any topic, be it a Teddy Bear or a serious political discussion. Users can also write comments under these posts by sending "riffs". A riff is a separate collage of graphic media that is related to the topic of the post, thus having similar purpose with Twitter's hashtag, as with its help users can connect with other people with the same interests.
Social networking web portals established new ways to communicate and share information together, they have created a whole new world, where people are free to express and share their ideas, thoughts and feelings. Hot discussions are held concerning whether social networks fully replace a real-life human interaction or they have become just an integrated aspect of real life relationships. People minds differ here: some think that social media kills face-to-face communication, whereas others state that it will never replace real-life interactions with physical and emotional stimulation. What is your opinion?