A few posts ago I did an article on Google+, this got me thinking about social networking in general and how it has affected our world and how we as humans interact.
Social network websites first surfaced in 1995. back then they were in the form of simple chat rooms and blog pages. However, the website classmates.com took a different approach. The idea behind this website was to reconnect people with old friends they went to school with (sounds familiar?). The site featured two types of members, those were free and paid (more on them later). The functionality of the site was basically that a user would have a profile page and was able to find their friends through the directory and they could read and post on the community message boards, much like a forum. However, free members were not able to send e-mails to other members or view their profile pages unless they upgraded to paid membership.
It wasn’t until the late 90s, early 2000s that the next big hitter appeared on the market and that was friendster.com. It had featured similar features to that of classmates.com however all membership was free. People could view their friends profiles and message then at their whim. Another feature was “fan profiles” which was a way for celebrates (big and small) and local bands and etc could make their mark on the internet and get a following/fan base.
With the great success of friendster.com, two more specialized social websites were released the year after, those where myspace.com (the music orientated website where you created profiles and people could message on them) and linkedin.com (more orientated to business links, allowing people to fine employers and employees). After them a rival site known as bebo.com came along to “fight” against friendster.com however it quickly lost it’s impact among the other social network giants.
However all of these sites did lack one thing which was quite crucial and that was exclusivity. With these sites, people could look at ANYONES profiles and gain access to their information without the users knowing, allowing online predators to lure young victims into meeting them without giving away their identity.
In 2004, a young Harvard undergrad, Mark Zuckerberg released Facebook.com a new social networking site that initially started out as a college only website but has branched out into so much more. It very rapidly gained popularity and what made it different to all of the other sites was it’s exclusivity, you could only add people on the site and before you can see their profile they had to confirm that they knew you, making the experience much safer. To this date, facebook.com is the largest social networking website in the world, but that didn’t stop other companies from releasing any others. In 2006 Jack Dorsey released twitter.com a social network more focused on users updating with short messages known as tweets. It’s a really effective way for celebrates and companies to keep their followers up to date with what was going on, in effect it’s a new feed more than anything.