Over the past year, online social networking has really taken off. Whether we like it or not, it has changed the way we interact with one another.
The concept of social networking all started in the 90’s, with sites like Classmates.com, which allowed members to reconnect with old classmates for a fee.
“It’s kind of like a reunion even though you’re not there,” said Classmates.com user David Thomas. “It’s just seeing people and talking to people I hadn’t seen in a long time.”
Friendster.com emerged in 2003, connecting members 18 and over with almost anyone for free. But it was Myspace.com in 2003, that took social networking to another level.
“The big jump with Myspace from the traditional social network sites was you could not just tell about yourself but you could put music on there that you liked, you could put pictures,” said social media specialist Stephen Bon.
Concerns grew over minors putting too much information on their Myspace pages, a potential target for online predators. Users also ran into trouble with future employers.
“Once you’ve posted something, it’s on there for good. Whether you like it or not, it’s on there for good. It’s the virtual tattoo of the online world,” said Bon.
Facebook.com came along in 2004 with a site based on giving status updates on your everyday life. It was first available only to college students.
“It was a nice way to interact at least with college friends from other schools,” said Facebook user Chris Watford.
The general public was allowed in on craze in 2006. Unlike social networking sites before it, Facebook attracted people of all ages – changing the culture of social networking.
By 2008, even presidential candidates were using Facebook as a way to reach more voters, more quickly.
Twitter entered the social networking world in 2006, giving members the ability to read and send real-time messages, called “tweets.”
Twitter became politically significant back in June. When protests erupted in Iran over the country’s controversial election, Iran’s government tried to shut down media coverage.
Protestors began tweeting about the violence taking place in their country, and the world took notice.
From connecting old classmates, to daily communication, social media has come a long way.
And according to Bon, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
“We’re still really in the infancy if this thing, it’s just getting started.”
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