A social networking service (also social networking site, SNS or social media) is an online platform that is used by people to build social networks or social relations with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections.
The variety of stand-alone and built-in social networking services currently available in the online space introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features: Most social network services are web-based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as by e-mail and instant messaging and online forums.
Friendster was followed by My Space and Linked In a year later, and eventually Bebo.
ARPANET, LISTSERV, and bulletin board services (BBS).
Many prototypical features of social networking sites were also present in online services such as America Online, Prodigy, Compu Serve, Chat Net, and The WELL. Many of these early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and encouraged users to share personal information and ideas via personal webpages by providing easy-to-use publishing tools and free or inexpensive webspace.
Orkut became the first popular social networking service in Brazil (although most of its very first users were from the United States) and quickly grew in popularity in India (Madhavan, 2007).
Through e-mail and instant messaging, online communities are created where a gift economy and reciprocal altruism are encouraged through cooperation.
Information is suited to a gift economy, as information is a nonrival good and can be gifted at practically no cost.
have noted that the term "social" cannot account for technological features of the social network platforms alone.
For the social science theoretical concept of relationships between people, see Social network.
For a list of services, see List of social networking websites.
The main types of social networking services are those that contain category places (such as former school year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and a recommendation system linked to trust.
Social network services can be split into three types: socializing social network services are primarily for socializing with existing friends (e.g., Facebook); networking social network services are primarily for non-social interpersonal communication (e.g., Linked In, a career and employment-oriented site); and social navigation social network services are primarily for helping users to find specific information or resources (e.g., Goodreads for books).
Furthermore, the idea that these services are defined by their ability to bring people together provides too broad a definition.