A social network service uses software to build online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.
Most services are primarily web-based and provide a collection of various ways for users to interact, such as chat, instant messaging, email, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion groups, and so on. Social networking has revolutionized the way we communicate and share information with one another in today's society. Various social networking websites are being used by millions of people everyday on a regular basis and it now seems that social networking is a part of everyday life. The main types of social networking services are those which contain directories of some categories (such as former classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and recommender systems linked to trust. Popular methods now combine many of these, with MySpace and Facebook being the most widely used in North America, Bebo, MySpace, Skyrock Blog, Facebook and Hi5 in parts of Europe, Orkut and Hi5 in South America and Central America, Friendster, Orkut and CyWorld in Asia and the Pacific Islands.
There have been some attempts to standardize these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries of friends and interests, but this has led to some concerns about privacy.
|“||The advent and ever increasing popularity of social network services heralds a sea change in the way personal data of large populations of citizens all over the world become more or less publicly available. These services have become incredibly popular in the past years especially with young people. But increasingly such services are also being offered e.g. for professionals and the elderly.
The challenges posed by social network services are on the one hand yet another flavour of the fundamental changes that the introduction of the Internet in the 90s of the past century has brought with it, by — inter alia — abolishing time and space in publishing information and real-time communication, and by blurring the line between service providers (authors) on the one hand and users/consumers (readers) on the other.
At the same time, social networking services seem to be pushing at the boundaries of what societies see as a person’s individual space: Personal data about individuals become publicly (and globally) available in an unprecedented way and quantity, especially including huge quantities of digital pictures and videos.
With respect to privacy, one of the most fundamental challenges may be seen in the fact that most of the personal information published in social network services is being published at the initiative of the users and based on their consent. While ”traditional” privacy regulation is concerned with defining rules to protect citizens against unfair or unproportional processing of personal data by the public administration (including law enforcement and secret services), and businesses, there are only very few rules governing the publication of personal data at the initiative of private individuals, partly because this had not been a major issue in the “offline world”, and neither on the Internet before social network services came into being. Furthermore, the processing of personal data from public sources has traditionally been privileged in data protection and privacy legislation.
In addition, there is a perceived privacy threat in relation to placing too much personal information in the hands of large corporations or governmental bodies, allowing a profile to be produced on an individual's behavior on which decisions, detrimental to an individual, may be taken.
Furthermore, there is an issue over the control of data — information having been altered or removed by the user may in fact be retained and/or passed to third parties. This danger was highlighted when the controversial social networking site Quechup harvested e-mail addresses from users' e-mail accounts for use in a spamming operation.
- "Social Nets Engage in Global Struggle".
- See Bebo.
- Hi5 popular in Europe.
- "Why Users Love Orkut".
- Social Networking Goes Global, by comScore;Consumer Trends in Social Networking by Gian Fulgoni, comScore; Social Networks Size & Growth by Pipl
- Report and Guidance on Privacy in Social Network Services - ”Rome Memorandum” - 43rd meeting, 3-4 March 2008, Rome (Italy).
- Social network launches worldwide spam campaign E-consultancy.com.
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