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The first social networking site (SNS) appeared in 1995. However, back then, few people ever imagined that this new form of web interaction and communication would grow to become the largest virtual community in the world.
Today, social networking sites, such as Facebook, Orkut, YouTube, Tagged, Twitter, and MySpace, are some of the most important forms of communication, connecting billions of people from all corners of the world at the click of a mouse. This platform allows for the global sharing of information even in places that are not accessible by mainstream media. As a result of their popularity and ease of accessibility, social networking sites have had a big impact in today’s society.
Facebook was created in 2004 and is today the largest SNS, commanding a following of more than 800 million active users found in all parts of the world. The company was founded by Mark Zuckerberg together with his three college friends, and although its membership was initially limited to Harvard students, it soon spread to include other students before eventually opening to all persons aged 13 and above (Carlson 23). It has since grown to become the most used SNS by worldwide monthly active users.
Facebook has had a number of social impacts among its users in a number of ways. With its accessibility in most mobile technologies, the site allows friends and persons with mutual interests and beliefs to continuously stay in touch wherever they may be. Although Facebook has been said to be beneficial to its users’ lives, scholars have argued that it may make users to be antisocial since there is no direct communication between them. Besides, some people have claimed that Facebook is a source of disagreements in relationships.
Twitter is a SNS and microblogging site based in San Francisco that allows users to post short text-based posts referred to as tweets. The site was developed in July 2006 by Jack Dorsey and has grown to gain global popularity, with more that 300 million users, resulting in more than 300 million tweets and approximately 1.6 billion search requests daily.
Twitter has impacted its users’ social lives in a number of ways, for instance, it allows busy persons to keep in touch with their audience since the tweets are typically short, consisting of 140 characters (D’Monte 8). The site has also been largely to organize protests aimed at governments some of which have had far-reaching effects. Examples include the Egyptian Revolution, Tunisian protests, Iranian election protests and the Syrian protests.
YouTube is a video-sharing website founded by 3 ex-PayPal employees in 2005 that allows users to upload, watch, and share videos over the internet. In late 2006, the company was bought by Google and is now headquartered in California. The videos available on the site come from a number of sources, including armature homemade videos, TV clips, music videos, documentaries, classic videos and so on. YouTube has made it possible to view and share motion pictures in a manner not possible previously.
Occurrences in all parts of the world are shared throughout the world and this elicits awareness and also allows for public debate on the issue. For instance, the Arab Spring activists have frequently used videos to show how government forces oppressed and even killed innocent civilians thereby making the whole world aware of the ongoings in these countries.
SNSs have taken virtual interaction to another level, enabling people from all corners of the world to meet on a single platform and share information of interest. The success of these sites can be attributed to their global presence, fast penetration of the internet, and their availability on mobile devices. SNSs have had a large social impact among users owing to the ease of information sharing and the ease with such information can be accessed.
Carlson, Nicholas. “At Last — The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded.” Business Insider 5 Mar. 2010: 23. Print.
D’Monte, Leslie. “Swine flu’s tweet tweet causes online flutter. “ Business Standard, 29 Apr. 2009: 8. Print.