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Social networks are social structure services geared towards a specific genre or category of people with common interests. They are composed of nodes (being the individual or company) and ties(being the common ground they share such as being fans of the same football team). In recent years their has been an explosion and growth of social networks. this is primarily due to the fact that people like having connections with other individuals that share the same interests. The growth of this new idea has drawn in businesses and internet companies by the dozen. Because of social networks, these companies can gear their product toward certain specific groups of individuals making them more profitable. A variety of techniques can be used by the companies to influence their target audience. Banner ads and hyper links are just two of the ways companies advertise on social networks. Social Networks provide a variety of ways for users to interact. Wall posts, chat, email, and web blogs are just a few ways to stay in touch with others using the same service. With all these new ways to interact though comes privacy concerns for the individual. Many users opt to use the security settings with these services for that reason. In any case the future of these networks rests with the individual users and their willingness to share information over what can sometimes be a very unsecured internet. A little bit more history on Social Networks

Applications


Their are many different social network services out there, however the most popular at the current time seem to be that of MySpace.com,Facebook.com, and College.com.
http://www.facebook.com/login.php

The link above is the login page to Facebook. Facebook is considered to be on the largest Social Networks. It use to be just for college students with proper college email accounts. Now anyone who has just a regular email account can join Facebook and join the large social network.

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(Facebook's main profile page)

Not only is Facebook such a huge social network hangout but so is myspace. Myspace was created for anyone to join. You could be 50 years old or 10, and you could sign up for Myspace. The only thing you needed was a valid email address. http://www.myspace.com/. This link will take you straight to the login for myspace and there you can search all you want and talk to anyone.

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(A profile found on Myspace)

One of the first, and considered the forerunner of social networks is Friendster (http://www.friendster.com). Friendster follows the layout of its now competitor Myspace in that anyone with a valid e-mail address may sign up for an account. Once you've created an account, you can create a profile for yourself that has the typical Myspace-esque components like name, date of birth, dating preferences, etc. There is also, like Facebook and Myspace, a "wall" area where your friends can post in your profile. Like Facebook and Myspace, there are groups you can join within Friendster as well.

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(Login screen for Friendster)
Social networks have been popping up all over the place because the internet has become a major way that people communicate with one another. Another social network that is seeing quite a bit of use like Facebook and Myspace, is College.com. College.com was made so that college kids could join to keep in touch with all there friends. College.com has a lot of features that Facebook and Myspace possess, allows people to connect with friends, upload photos and videos, share opinions, share your class schedule, and they can even rate there professors.


Future Of Social Networking


It is unclear if the recent explosion of people joining social networks will continue. No one is sure if this is the next big part of the internet, or if it is nothing more than just a fad. Many people who are apart of the bigger groups are starting to switch to newer and smaller networks. Many people that started off with MySpace have since left it. Growing tired of the network. MySpace as well as the others major groups are trying to evolve with their members to continue to satisfy them with what they are looking for in a social network. Another aspect of this is the age group of those who join. The majority of members are under or around 18. As these members grow up, no one can tell if they will stay with social networks.
The other side of the future of social networks is if from a business since, are if they profitable. So far MySpace and Facebook are not telling if they are profiting from their networks. Since the majority of social networks are free to join and have no annual fees, the only way these companies make money is from advertising. Many social networks and companies are trying to find ways to make money off social networks. No one, as of yet has quiet got it down. There is a down side to this as well. The more advertising social networks do the more likely user will get tired of it and move to smaller networks that do not advertise as much. It is also unclear if users will be willing to pay a monthly or annual fee to support their networks.