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Definition: social networking service


A platform that provides a venue for people to share their activities and interests with family, friends and colleagues. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the leading social sites in the U.S. In China, it is WeChat. See Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and WeChat.

Members create an online profile with biographical data, photos and any other information they choose to post. They communicate with each other by making their latest thoughts public in a blog-like format or via email, instant messaging or video chat.

What began for personal use migrated to business. Companies use social sites to advertise products, gain brand recognition, as well as expand traffic to their main website.

Social Media Architectures
There are two types of social media. Facebook embodies the first type, which it thoroughly dominates. Facebook members have their own personal Web presence that allows them to post and receive content. Text messaging is a part of the system as well as third-party news and ads. Followers receive a notice that new content is available.

The second is a message broadcasting service, and Twitter is the largest. Technically a "microblog" (a blog with shorter content), limited-length text messages, images, short videos and links are created by members and sent to followers, who may resend to their followers. Ads are also embedded in the user's feed. See Twitter.

How It Started
In 1997, the first social media platform was SixDegrees.com, named for "six degrees of separation." Lasting until 2001, it was followed by Friendster and MySpace a year later. Started by two friends, MySpace became extremely popular, and its parent company, Intermix, was acquired by News Corporation for USD $580 million two years after MySpace was launched. See Myspace and Friendster.

Facebook came out in 2004 targeting college students, but when opened to everyone, it grew exponentially to become the top social site. Two years later, Twitter was launched with its message broadcasting platform and created its own revolution within a short time. See social networking websites.