Popular Social Networking

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There are a number of popular social networking websites that are rapidly changing the way that individuals meet, make friends, and interact. The Internet itself can be a powerful tool for building connections, both meaningful ones and ones that are more surface level. It took a while for this type of interaction to catch on and many websites failed before they could become a stable on the world wide web. A number of these networks are designed to appeal to a younger audience, but there are multiple sites that are geared toward a specific area of interest or demographic. Hundreds of social networking sites now flourish online. Account holders on these sites will generally design a profile page. This page will usually include a photograph and basic biographical information, often based on answers to a list of questions supplied by the site. A list of friends will also be an important element. These individuals will be fellow members of the site who have agreed to be enrolled as an ally. An area for comments and messages, along with a personal web log, or blog, may round out the profile page. Albums of personal photographs and perhaps even video content may be posted as well. Such features have gone a long way to make popular social networking websites so widely enjoyed. The business world has also embraced this trend. The use of the Internet as a tool for expanding personal or business contacts is a frequent occurrence. Those with common interests are also able to exchange information and find fellow enthusiasts through the use of such websites. Many users enjoy the security that these services offer.

The level of traffic on many popular social networking websites can be staggering. Some sites have become so popular among teens and young people that word of mouth alone has been a major contributing factor to overall success. Members of some of these sites will create a personal profile page. These pages will frequently be constructed of graphics and design elements that are of the user's own choosing. For this reason, the individual pages will have a distinctive, if not professional, appearance. Safety concerns over online predators may have damaged the reputation of some popular social networking websites. Most sites of this nature will offer specific safety guidelines to users and not allow participation by individuals who are less than thirteen years of age. Of course, it can be difficult if not impossible to enforce this policy. Proving that an account holder is actually the age that they claim to be may not be an easy task. Concerns over the content of words and images that are posted on these website have arisen as well. Because participation on these social networking websites feels very private and anonymous, many participants, particularly young people, tend to let down their guards. Just because words or pictures are uploaded from the privacy of a user's home does not mean that this content will not be widely viewed. Reputations and careers can be damaged by words and images that are posted on the world wide web.

Most popular social networking sites will have a terminology that is shared with other websites of this nature. The word "add" for example will have a unique meaning on friendship oriented sites. Used as a noun rather than a verb, an "add" is the act of permitting a fellow member to be included on an account holder's friend's list. An "avatar" is a graphic rendition of a participant. If an individual opts to create a false identity on a friendship website or a fictional representation of a famous person, the fictitious profile is called a "fakester." A "widget" is an embedded HTML code that is used on a personal profile page. One drawback of popular social networking websites might be the very demographic that has driven success for these sites. Young people have a tendency to embrace the latest new trends. That quality is what may have originally attracted many users to a particular site. But when the next new thing comes along, perhaps a website with more features to offer, older sites can face the danger of loosing members very quickly. This is particularly true if the site gets the reputation of being populated by older users.

In addition to traditional Internet connections, many popular social networking websites are expanding their reach into the realm of cell phones. The ability to access popular social websites from a cell phone can work to increase the amount of online traffic that these sites receive. With this technology, users may be able to upload photos or add to a personal web logs using cell phones. The Bible frequently addresses the importance of faith in a believer's life. "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17)

Issues of safety and privacy are very important for popular social networking websites. Online forums and chat rooms have been widely used by predators to lure minors into abusive situations. There are a number of software products available that can help parents closely monitor a child's online activities if they suspect or merely wish to protect a child from predatory behavior. Educating young people on the dangers that may be associated with careless or unwise use of Internet contacts is always a good idea. Used judiciously and with adequate supervision, social networking websites can be a good experience.

Premier Online Community

A premier online community may be difficult to describe, since this phrase appears to be a self-proclaimed description of a number of different websites where people get together to discuss common interests. The idea of Internet communities has actually been around for a long time, yet its potential and its popularity has not really been fully realized until the recent phenomenon known as the social networking craze surfaced. With the advent of such websites as Facebook and MySpace and many others that followed in their wake, people have discovered the power of gathering people who have an expressed interest in a particular issue or activity. In the case of the large social networking sites, that common interest would be to meet and stay in touch with others, often for the express purpose of dating or socializing. But the power of Internet communities is now realized by the users of the World Wide Web in new and powerful ways. The ability to gather people with a common interest and perhaps purpose from around the world has never been possible as it is today , and the result has been the proliferation of millions of websites, many of them joined together by some theme. So with so many like-minded networking type websites, there will bound to be those that begin to declare themselves the premier online community for such and such a cause.

Internet communities may be made up of people who have never met one another in person, or of people who have certainly met and just want to keep in touch in spite of distance. Internet communities can be made up of very superficial contacts, or be comprised of very close knit members. These communities may be closed, allowing only membership by invitation, or they may be quite public, desirous of as many new members as possible. Internet communities may be comprised only of chat rooms and messages boards, or they may also contain blogs and the ability to instant message. Businesses have recognized the power of online communities to reach out and gain new relationships both in search of customers, but also to build affinity with like-minded business persons. So how does one decide what a premier online community really is? Here might be some ways to judge such a claim:

The most obvious claim to being a premier online community would be the size of the traffic numbers to the website. Facebook or MySpace might easily claim to be the premier online community for social networking because of the millions of visitors that they have coming to their sites every month. Their claim may have nothing to do with ease of navigating around the site or even the number of dates or new relationships the sites have created. Businesses that start an Internet networking site so customers can talk about their product, both good and bad may only use traffic numbers as their standard for success. In that vein, the claim to be the premier online community discussion website for a particular product would seem to be in order.

But many companies and non-profits or other conscious raising sites might try and control the language and the tone of discussion in their Internet social networking communities. After all, who wants to have disparaging comments about one's social issue or product or beliefs on an online networking website? But the fact is the best websites would be those that open up all discussion and welcome all comments, both supporters and dissenters. Certainly a foremost or leading online community ought to be a place where contributors enjoy an unbiased freedom to share their thoughts. Is a premier online community a place where discussion is monitored and censored is a question only the reader can decide. Can you pray this prayer? "Search me, O God and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139: 23, 24) God loves for us to utter these words to Him when we are sincere.

The word premier means best, leading, primary or foremost and assigning such lofty descriptions to an online community may only be able to be assigned legitimately to an online community that has great influence to affect public opinion or bring about significant social change. It would seem that a premier online community could only make the claim of being the best or the leading or foremost website if it is able to affect or even shape society in new directions. For example, if an online community that is dedicated to bringing together scientists, politicians, and grassroots leaders to influence and can even pressure Congress to enact certain legislation regarding, for example, the harnessing of wind power, then it would appear that this particular Internet community may earn the title of the best or leading Internet community for wind energy interests. The fact that the Internet is an unregulated platform for free speech enables any claim to be made, no matter whether it is true or not. Labeling something as premier doesn't necessarily make the claim true, but certainly the amount of visitors a community has, the openness of the community for all sides of a discussion and its influence on buyers, the culture and/or public policy may allow a website to make the claim of being foremost in its arena. It is up to the billion or so users of the Internet to make the final decision about a website's claims.



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