Social network sites define as a web‐based services that allow individuals to
(1) Construct a public or semi‐public draft within an enclosed system,
(2) Articulate a list of other users with whom they allocate a connection, and
(3) View and traverse their list of links and those made by others within the organization. The nature and classification of these links may vary from site to site.
While we use the term social network site to describe this phenomenon, the term "social networking sites" also appears in public discussion, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. We chose not to employ the term "networking" for two reasons: emphasis and scope. "Networking" emphasizes relationship beginning, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiate them from other forms of computer‐mediated communication.
VIDEO: What is social networking??
What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they allow users to clear and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made, but that is often not the purpose, and these meetings are frequently between "hidden ties" (Haythornthwaite, 2005) who share some offline connection. Large social networking sites, participants are not necessarily for networking or looking to meet new people, instead, they are mainly communicating with people who are already a part of their complete social network. To highlight this expressed social network as a important organizing feature of these sites, we tag them "social network sites."
After joining a social network site, users are encouraged to identify others in the system with which they have a connection. The label for these communication differs depending on the site, accepted terms consist of "Friends," "Contacts," and "Fans." Most Social network sites involve bi‐directional verification for Friendship, but some do not. These one‐directional ties are sometimes labelled as "Fans" or "Followers," but many sites call these Friends as well. The term "Friends" can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarily mean friendship in the everyday language sense, and the reasons people connect are mixed (boyd, 2006).
Some social networking sites have photo‐sharing or video‐sharing capabilities, others have built‐in blogging and instant messaging technology. There are mobile‐specific social networking sites e.g., Dodge ball, but several web‐based social networking also support limited mobile interactions e.g., Face book, MySpace, and Cyworld. Many social networking sites target people from definite physical regions or linguistic groups, although this does not always determine the site's region. Orkut, for example, was launched in the United States with an English‐only boundary, but Portuguese‐speaking Brazilians quickly became the central user group (Kopytoff, 2004). Some sites are designed with specific ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, political or other identity‐driven categories in mind.
Figur 1 Social network