Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Rise of Social Networking Sites

The rise of social networking sites has been the theme of Internet in 2006. The spate of successful social networking sites like Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, etc confirm it. Social networks connect people with all different types of interests. Most of the social networks on the internet are public, allowing anyone to join.

The first social networking website was, which began in 1995 and has 40 million users today. Other sites followed, including, which began in 1997, Epinions which introduced the circle of trust in 1999, followed by European equivalents, Dooyoo and ToLuna. It was not until 2001 that websites using the Circle of Friends online social networks started appearing. This form of social networking, widely used in virtual communities, became particularly popular in 2002 and flourished with the advent of a website called Friendster. Today there are over 200 social networking sites. The popularity of these sites rapidly grew, and by 2005 MySpace was getting more page views than Google. Google has a social network called Orkut, launched in 2004. Social networking began to be seen as a component of internet strategy at around the same time: in March 2005 Yahoo launched Yahoo! 360°, their entry into the field, and in July 2005 News Corporation bought MySpace.

The growth of Web 2.0 technology allowed social networks to flourish. Web 2.0 applications support networks created by architecture of participation. This is characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and "the market as a conversation”. Examples of Web 2.0 include digg, Shoutwire,, and Technorati. In Web 2.0 the Network acts as platform" — delivering (and allowing users to use) applications entirely through a browser. Web 2.0 provides a rich, interactive, user-friendly interface. In short Web 2.0 provides online collaboration and sharing among users.

Here is a list of the top 10 social networking sites today:
1. Myspace: 130,000,000 users, General
2. Hi5: 50,000,000 users, General
3. 40,000,000 users, School, college, work and the military
4. Xanga: 40,000,000 users, Blogs and "metro" areas, used by teenagers
5. Friendster: 29,200,000 users, General
6. 25,000,000 users, Locating friends & Family
7. Orkut: 36,532,000 users, Owned by Google
8. Bebo: 22,000,000 users, Schools & colleges networking
9. Facebook: 12,000,000 users, General
10.Livejournal: 10,920,000 users, A blogging network
Source of above figures: Wikipedia

Close to a dozen social networking sites are now focused only on India:,,, and, to name a few. Social networking sites have been the outstanding success stories of 2006. Why else would Google buy YouTube for $1.65 billion?

No comments: