Everything about Social Network Sites. Impact on Humans. Part 1
Note: The first section of the article reveals general features of social network sites, the history of their development, and the impact of the ones on a person’s life. It contains the latest data on popular networks and covers weak points of the matter.
1. History of Development
Turns out, the concept of a “social network” appeared as early as 1954 and certainly had nothing to do with the Internet. The studying of this phenomenon started in distant 30th of last century. The concept was introduced by sociologist James Barns: a “social network” is a social structure, consisting of groups of units, which are represented by social objects (people or organizations), and relationships between the ones (social interrelations) (see more detailed data in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network). Simply said, this is a certain group of people being familiar to each other, where a person himself is the center and his acquaintances are the branches. There are one-way or two-way communications between all the members of the network. For instance, it may be a group of course mates, in which certain Jack is the center while Bill and Catherine are his acquaintances (branches).
Gradually, the scientific concept gained popularity, at first, in advanced capitalist countries, and later on in Eastern Europe. As society developed and entered the age of information, when plenty of communication types has been created, the development of the social networks began to swing. Now it’s well known everywhere. Let us hereby focus on the development of social networks in the Internet exclusively.
The first social network, applying computer facilities, was the e-mail technology, arising in 1971 and being used by the military in the ARPA Net network.
Further, in 1988 the Finnish student Jarkko Oikarinen invented IRC (Internet Relay Chat) technology which allowed real-time communication.
The milestone was the invention of the Internet, gaining publicity in 1991 with the efforts of the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee.
In 1995 Randy Conrad created Classmates.com, the first social network the way we know it. The concept enjoyed high demand. Thus, the rapid development of social networks in the Internet started that year. Today, this is still the most popular network worldwide, and it enlists over 50 million users.
In 2004 Facebook arose. Within several years it gained the greatest popularity among the world’s social networks. It provides the same communication mechanism with a bit different appearance, which turned to be revolutionary. The number of active users is over 700 million as of mid-2011.
In September 2005, Tim O’Reilly brought an ideological revolution, introducing Web 2.0 technologies in his article “Tim O’Reilly — What Is Web 2.0”. Social networks precisely are among the main features considered to be part of Web 2.0.
In 2008 Groupon project was started. This is the service of group discounts, that uses the power of social networking (invite your acquaintances to the group and get the group discount), though it uses the social interaction quite superficially (only for purchases). The service combines communication and business that can be easily called a new level of online social network development, unifying online and offline worlds.
There are many diversified social networks on the present Internet. For the purpose of sorting out, one can make a certain classification. Some new types of networks were added in 2008.
- Personal communication (Classmates.com)
- Business communication ( )
- Entertainment (MySpace)
- Video sharing (YouTube)
- Audio sharing (Last.FM)
- Photo (Flickr)
- Location posting (Foursquare)
- Purchase (Groupon)
- Blogging (Tumblr)
- News (Reddit)
- Question-Answer (Answers.com)
- Bookmarks (Delicious)
- Virtual world (Second Life)
- Topical (Slashdot)
- Opened (Facebook)
- Closed (PlayboyU)
- Combined (VK)
By geo targeting:
- World (hi5)
- Country (Qzone)
- Area unit
- Without certain regions (InterNations)
The most interesting classification of social networks is the one made regarding the purpose; there are many different projects featuring certain content, filling specific niches. If one analyses this classification, it becomes obvious that all main topics have already been socialized in the network regardless of the content type. Rapid growth continues only in certain niches, in which topical social networks arise. The last classification group of topical networks covers a great many communities each of which is based on topical content and communication.
The second group shows the accessibility of the networks. At present, the vast majority of the ones are totally open to the outer world, and for this reason, being actively criticized by users. Still, people widely use this network for different reasons. Some projects are not pointed at publicity due to their business model; therefore, they were initially created as closed ones. The combined networks usually develop poorly: they are focused on gaining maximum popularity as well as the open ones, but the users have not got used to barriers and therefore do not will to become the participants of such networks much.
The last one is geo-targeting, the simplest and the most obvious: at first the world-scale giants emerged effacing physical boundaries, later on networks of separate regions appeared, often entirely or partially following world’s giants, but in accordance with the local region’s peculiarities. Upon the Internet development, even separate city networks started popping up. One should also mention the networks, connected not with the region, but with an organization, for instance, social networks of corporations or political parties.
The impact of social networks on a person’s life is great; many people even do not totally perceive this phenomenon while social networks are the most popular Internet activity. Today, 20 out of 100 world’s most visited sites are very social networks, and 60 more are socialized to one extent or another. Over 80% of companies all over the world use social networks in their business. About 78% of people trust the information from social networks. Even revolutions are made through this communication tool. Social networks have become the very centre of the modern Internet.
Information about an Individual
Currently, social networks are huge virtual databases with the most diversified information about hundreds of millions of people all over the world which is well-structured as well. In recent times, the networks tend to become more and more open to the public and many user’s personal data are available for everyone interested. The more person socializes through various social networks, the more information about him can be easily gathered. Precisely for this reason, the disputable statement that “70% of information is gathered by secret services from public sources”, sounds reasonable today.
Up-to-date social networks offer their users to specify almost everything about themselves: photo, video, contacts (including the ones by type), interests, education, information on work, places visited by the person, preferred products, personal thoughts, etc. Most part of the information is available without registration; one can just find the user’s page in popular social networks, the rest of the information can be viewed after adding the user to the friend’s list, and the entire information, including personal correspondence (minimum), is accessible for the administration of the network, and no privacy settings can cover it.
Let me conduct a small experiment regarding the availability of information about me personally: I don’t use social networks much. I’m registered with several social networking sites. I communicate on three of the ones from time to time, and actively on one of them. I do not reveal the entire information about myself in social networks on purpose and focus on different aspects of my life on different sites. One can easily find me in Facebook, Vkontakte, Moi Krug (My Circle), Profeo, Habrahabr and some other networks by my surname and my name. The first profile to be found is the one in business network Moi Krug, where one can view my business photos, professional skills, interests, career data, the services I provide, links etc. Further, we find the profile in business network Profeo, where little information is available without the registration, namely one can get to know the data about my current work, view my contacts, groups, sector and region. My profile on VK(https://vkontakte.ru/simferopol), where a great many of my thoughts are available in microblog, one can also see several public photos and videos, a couple of my unofficial photos, my date of birth, a couple of my wishes and subscriptions, and by “likes” on the page one can sort out my friends. Then let us find my profile on Facebook, where one can see a couple of my friends and interests. And the last one to be found is the IT community Habrahabr, where one can get to know about my interests, contacts, friends, companies I am interested in, view the materials published by me, and the comments. All these data can be viewed by any user even without being registered in any certain social network. According to them one can make up the complete professional image of mine and gather much personal information, and if one adds himself as my friend, my image will be complete approximately at the level of 50-60%. And all this is possible even taking into consideration the fact that I deliberately do not provide full information about myself in social networks and have not got much time to communicate on the ones on the whole.
It is worth emphasizing one peculiarity: in the Internet, as well as in real world, people are united in certain social groups (social masks), which are separate and don’t interact with each other. Different projects involve people, who naturally divide into informal groups by interests, age, and other features. People tend to have several social masks: in the daytime, it is business communication, in the evening person communicates with his friends and family, weekends, for instance, are dedicated for his hobby, etc. Everyone has got his own set of masks, but each of the ones has its own peculiarities which impact the individual’s behavior in general. For this reason, precisely, the modern person is registered on several social network sites, where he meets various needs and provides different information about himself while in recent times many people have been registering for several accounts in each social network to have an opportunity to “try on another persona”.
Apart from that, the person changes gradually: he gets older, his interests, life priorities and other aspects change. It means that boys and girls just out of school, communicating in Vkontakte, tomorrow may communicate in with quite different life priorities and may want to provide quite different information about themselves. Precisely for this reason, it is so important to sort out the information about oneself in various social networks.
Social Network Sites and Business
Today, a large audience has assembled on social network sites, attracting more and more experts from the most diversified spheres. Some networks provide an opportunity of just communicating, some of the ones furnish working tools, but one thing can be said for sure – any popular social network has become a working space for millions of people.
People, whose profession is based on communication, are the first ones to show activity on these sites. These are sales managers, marketing experts, researchers, and many others. Businessmen and HR experts are also followers. At present people of any specialties work within social networking sites to one extent or another.
It is quite obvious that business communication takes place on the social network sites which are created for business purposes, as well as on social networks with certain targeting, assembling specific groups of people. The networks provide an opportunity of finding a job (for example, special section “Work” in “Habrahabr” network — https://career.habr.com/), being popular among IT experts of CIS countries), an opportunity of selling something (for instance, special section “Marketplace Facebook”), or just an opportunity of finding business partners (e.g., business network “XING” — xing.com).
People actively use networks for working and benefit more and more from year to year. Many people change their job via social networks, companies find employees, and some groups of experts completely converted their professional activities to the ones. In the nearest future, one can expect the development of specialized functionality which will allow creating virtual jobs; in particular, it refers to the professional networks.
During the last 3-4 years, the issue of information security and privacy in social networks has been attracting much attention. It is quite reasonable as the networks get more and more open to the outer world, personal data breach cases took place, users’ accounts can be easily hacked and the networks administration has got the access to any information. But all this is just the surface part, being written about by the press, and there is much more to be said about potential threats for personal data.
At first glance, the internal mechanisms of social networks for targeted ad impressions, potential acquaintances or interesting content selection can be considered the most harmless variant of using personal data without the user’s permission. These mechanisms have become standard almost in all social networks, and nobody conceals this fact: they gather and analyze personal data, which any network abounds with, and use it for commercial purposes. Moreover, social networks pass personal data to the outer world and had to admit it publicly.
problems due to their personal data leakage through networks, which happens quite often. The leakage of 77 mln PlayStation Network users’ personal data in April 2011 can be considered one of the largest-scale personal data leakages, and the consequences of the incident are not absolutely clear yet, users’ payments data leak may have taken place. There are always plenty of security problems and there is a strong possibility that most part of such leakages is just concealed from the public.
If an intruder’s actions are aimed at a certain person, the hacking of certain accounts and obtaining of the access to entire personal information of a certain user can cause much more serious problems. Today, even an ordinary user, who just knows a certain person and is able of applying social engineering, can make it easily, moreover, special hacking services are provided as well, the cost of the ones is $20 max. The motivation of intruders differs – ranging from the hacking of accounts of certain company’s officers for the purpose of industrial espionage and up to personal purposes. Thus, for example, marital lawyers of the USA record that social networking sites are the reason for one in five divorces : spouses get access to the partner’s profile finding his/her correspondence with his/her lover that results in divorce.
Viruses and fishing are worth mentioning especially; the ones can steal logins and passwords without the user’s notice for illegal activities (for instance, automated spam distribution on behalf of users).
But the greatest threat is the fact that a large number of people have got access to entire personal information, and they can view it any moment even if the person has deleted something from the network. Firstly, these are the staff members of the network as they have got access to accounts, as well as to databases containing the entire information., For instance, a special master password in Facebook allows entering any account. Secondly, the law bodies such as CIA in the USA or FSS in Russia have got access to the data. Recently, the well-known exposer Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has declared that Facebook is the most appalling spy machine used by US Intelligence. Earlier in Russia, the popular network Vkontakte had already officially acknowledged the fact of its cooperating with the law bodies and the fact of giving out private information. All these facts are quite logical: social networks’ employees cannot do without the access as it is their work, and the law bodies are to catch network criminals, but there is no guarantee that the personal data are not passed to the third parties; upon that, these data can often be as considerable as psychological profiles or confidential information.
In recent years the decline of trust in social networking has been taking place. Users more often start to sort out their information to find out if they can trust the network, sometimes they provide false information or even delete their accounts from the network. But even deleting of one’s profile does not guarantee privacy protection as the information often is stored on servers and can be used in the future.
Internet addiction is a psychological disease that has been acknowledged long ago while addiction to social networks is the new form of the one. The reasons of this phenomenon are quite explainable: each person has got obvious and hidden needs, which he strives to satisfy, it may be the need for communication, self-actualization, time-saving and many others, and social network provides the one with the feeling of meeting these needs. And all these seem to be rather available, as soon as one writes a nice quotation, 10 men answer the one; as soon as you load a new photo, 10 people tell you how beautiful/handsome you are; as soon as one makes a couple of clicks he gets a new interesting acquaintance in his list of friends… But in fact it means escaping reality, replacing real things with virtual ones that provide a person merely with the feeling of meeting his needs while in fact Internet cannot replace real life; therefore, the person wants more and more, but the more virtual “communication” he gets the more he wants it while his needs still remain unsatisfied, or at least the most part of the ones.
Such an addiction develops gradually in many people who got into a social network once. A person gets addicted to the network, and the more time he uses it the harder real life becomes for him. It is difficult to feel it as one should keep himself away from the computer for several days to feel the whole bouquet of feelings, ranging from a drastic desire to enter the Internet and up to serious depression – these are symptoms of the addiction. Addiction results in many problems: complexes, depression, fears, mood swings and even sexual disorders.
This psychological disorder requires treatment as any illness. It is difficult to treat any psychological problems and addictions in particular. First of all, one should realize the presence of a problem and acknowledge it for oneself. The second stage of the treatment is the replacement of virtual communication with the real one, and one can gradually recover from the disease with the help of friends and relatives.
There are many different social network sites in the world. I have made the analysis of several world-scale projects and some projects of Eastern Europe. Let us review each project separately.
The world’s most popular social network and the most visited site. Since the moment of its creation the network has been persisting in showing tremendous growth – both the one of users and of income. The company continuously generates and introduces new ideas, performs active integration into the outer world, creates its own “Facebook-Internet”. In the nearest several years its drastic growth will remain stable.
Region: mainly the USA, Indonesia, Great Britain, Turkey, India, Mexico, the Philippines, France, Italy, Germany, over 5 mln users in Russia. The network has been implementing active expansion onto many other countries’ markets in recent years.
The year of foundation: 2004.
Type: personal communication network.
Monthly active users: over 700 mln.
Traffic growth rate: positive.
Problems: Facebook is often criticized for its privacy issues and great openness. Monetization problems also take place, and due to this fact, the company continuously carries out experiments in this sphere. Despite the problems, its gross profit increases twice annually. Many people do not like the interface of the network.
Social network for business communication of economically active people. The site actively enjoys the participation of many companies all over the world. The project is rather promising on the whole: its audience is marked with “high quality” and all the indices grow on daily basis.
Region: mainly the USA, the network is also popular in Great Britain, Spain, and India. It swiftly gains popularity in advanced European and Asian countries. In total, over 200 countries of the world are engaged in the project.
The year of foundation: 2003.
Type: business communication network.
Monthly active users: over 100 mln.
Traffic growth rate: positive, over 4 mln new users per month.
Problems: in my opinion, the network lacks functionality for its operation.
A quite young social network site, based on microblogging. The concept is rather interesting: the founders have benefitted from old ideas of blogging, artificially restricted the length of a message and greatly simplified everything possible; as a result, in modern world’s conditions, when life gets faster day by day and one suffers the lack of time drastically, a new popular social network arose.
Region: mainly the USA as well as Brazil, Great Britain, Canada, and Germany.
The year of foundation: 2006.
Type: blogging network.
Monthly active users: 98 mln users, upon that, the network has got over 200 mln registrations and grows fast.
Traffic growth rate: positive.
Problems: the network has got serious problems despite enjoying a high popularity. First of all, this is the competition with other social networks, being popular and providing the same opportunities of microblogging, namely Facebook, Vkontakte and others. Upon that, the competitors offer other social opportunities apart from microblogging. Many new users leave the network after their first trying the service. Besides, the network provides little benefit to its participants: their opportunities are limited just with microblogging, being used by many members merely for useless chatting. There are also spam issues with spam accounting for 5-10% of all the messages. And to crown it all, the network still remains unprofitable, upon that, easily rejecting pricely offers of investors for buying.
The world’s most popular discount service providing large discounts for products upon the considerable demand ensured for the ones. This is not a classical social network, but the project uses some principles of social networks, the main emphasis is still made on e-commerce.
Region: the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Brazil, India, and many other countries. The region is an important item for the project. The company sells products in large cities.
The year of foundation: 2008.
Type: deal of the day.
Monthly active users: 8.8 mln users and over 83 mln registered accounts.
Traffic growth rate: positive, the project is the youngest among the analyzed ones, currently being on the stage of explosive growth which will persist for 1-2 years minimum.
Problems: The critical problem is to expand its regional network as quickly as possible. In my opinion, the socialization of the project, adding the opportunity of communicating within the site, and geolocation services are of great potential. Some experts call the business model of Groupon doubtful.
The most popular social network in CIS countries. In fact, it is analog of Facebook. The rates of growth have declined recently, especially, upon Facebook’s starting its activities in site localization for Russian-speaking audience and Vkontakte’s introducing the registration by invitations in the beginning of 2011. Last year, the network started developing fast, keeping introducing new functionality.
Region: mainly Russia, the project is also popular in CIS countries: Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, etc. In 2009 Vkontakte purchased the VK.com domain and started expanding onto other countries, though the progress is little so far.
The year of foundation: 2006.
Type: personal communication network
Monthly active users: over 40 mln active users and over 135 mln accounts as of the beginning of 2011. Precise numbers are open to the public.
Traffic growth rate: positive.
Problems: to large extent popularity is ensured by pirate content (music, films, porno), due to which the company has got many problems with the rightholders, and the USA authorities added the site to the list of the largest distributors of pirate content in the world. As early as now, many people visit Vkontakte “to listen to music and watch movies” which is confirmed by the TNS Web Index Report, according to which 30% of the network’s popularity falls on video. This is undoubted quite a negative factor for a social network, people cease using it according to its intended purpose, and the rightholders gradually delete their content, such a state of things may result in a considerable decrease of popularity with the lapse of time. Though Pavel Durov, the founder of the network, denies it, he has recently stated: “Addressing to video pages accounts maximum for 5% of the entire activity of the users of Vkontakte”, omitting the details, specifying what precisely is meant by “addressing” — if it is the time spent in the section or the number of pages being viewed, it seems quite probable, the users spend their time communicating, and if it is the percent of unique visitors of the section of the whole number of the site visitors, the data are doubtful. Pavel has also said nothing about the audio section, being highly addressed by the users. The network is also known for low-quality support, and the corresponding scandal stories arose in mass media many times.
The social network for the search of classmates, the Russian analog of Classmates.com. As long ago as two years, it was the most popular network in Eastern Europe, now having lost its leadership though.
Region: Russia, Ukraine and other CIS countries.
The year of foundation: 2006.
Type: personal communication network.
Monthly active users: over 20 mln users and over 68 mln accounts.
Traffic growth rate: positive.
Problems: Odnoklassniki has got a big problem with aggressive monetization, almost all services of the project are the paid ones, even those which are included into the main functionality that results in a negative reaction of the users, the project’s new team is trying to solve the problem though. Besides, the network is very open, and much information becomes available for the outer world after registration. A low-quality interface, being poorly perceived by users visually, is the last significant problem. All these problems hinder the traffic growth rate considerably; despite still being positive, in the nearest several years the growth may stop or even turn negative.
The most popular network in Ukraine. In fact, it was founded as the clone of Facebook, but now the project is strongly converting to a dating networks niche.
Region: Ukraine, expansion onto Russia is planned.
The year of foundation: 2007.
Type: personal communication network.
Monthly active users: более 2 млн. пользователей.
Traffic growth rate: positive.
Problems: there are certain problems with interface, strong competition in CIS.
One can make quite definite conclusions from the analysis: social networks have not reached their popularity peak yet and will continue growing steadily for the nearest 3-5 years. At present, all the projects exhibit extensive (quantitative) growth due to their attracting uncovered users in major and minor regions, but the companies have already started intensive (qualitative) growth as well, and in the nearest future, quite severe competition will emerge between the projects. In the market, there are still many free topical niches, in which billions-rate business projects can be arranged, the fact of which is observed now. Today, popular networks are the ones meeting both the communication needs of a person and other global human needs. Geolocation and e-commerce can be named among the trends of social networks.
Against the background of rapid popularity and profitability growth, many of social networks have got serious problems, lying at the root of their work. The solving of these problems will result in the greatest growth of social networks, being trying to perform the one.
The problem of many social networks, especially non-topical ones, is their being of little benefit for users. People spend a lot of time there, getting just electronic communication, mostly the one in the form of a text, providing only 7% of data, that makes such communication quite unproductive, as well as getting much useless data, 90% of which is of no value at all. Realizing this problem, many social networks try to create new tools, which allow users buying-selling, working, having fun and performing other activities. The solving of the issue will become fundamental for the development of networks in the nearest 3-5 years.
Nowadays, social networks are not a profitable business. Considerable resources are required for the creation and maintenance of the ones while monetization tools are few and the most part of the ones is based on the site traffic rate that does not allow overcoming the break-even point during the first several years of project existence. In connection with this fact, experiments in the sphere of monetization are continuously performed. The resolving of this problem will also influence the development of social networks in the nearest future: e-commerce tools will be introduced, new paid services will be provided, and much attention will be paid to mediation between users. I will tell you about monetization in the 4th section of my report in more detail.
Social networks have already covered the whole Internet. Today, there is an enormous number of projects registered in many countries. Hundreds of millions of people from all over the world are registered in the ones. Upon that, each project is unique and meets slightly different needs: in some networks, people speak about their personal life, in others – about their work, in third ones they just use the content. This has resulted in considerable intersection of the audience as the same person gets registered in several social networks or even has several registrations in each of the projects for satisfying different needs. First of all, this is connected with the fact that many of the networks have not introduced the tools for efficient meeting of different needs, often being contrary to each other, on the other hand, companies do not want to get integrated with each other, being concerned about the competition. Therefore, people divide into various social groups in different networks, and a certain person can be present minimum in several groups. In the future, the projects being able of combining the methods of meeting various needs and thus gaining a great competitive edge or at least starting the integration with projects of an indirect competitive group will be the ones of choice.
False personal information
In recent years, users’ personal data garbling takes place increasingly. Many people change their names and surnames totally or partially, specify false data in their profile, much information remains undisclosed. The number of such people has not been estimated precisely, but as early as now their amount may account for 10-15% of the total number of active users, and this number grows fast. In general, the issue is connected with data privacy: social networks benefit from disclosing maximum data about their users, and they are succeeding in practicing it while people, on the contrary, would like to conceal some part of their data. The trend will persist till social networks’ starting to provide tools for keeping the guaranteed data anonymity against everybody, including the networks themselves.
One more big problem of social networks is spam. The ones are like a paradise for scammers who can make personalized distribution of unwanted ads. Social networks try struggling with it actively, introducing the latest mechanisms of spam detection and blocking, but spammers do not stop in their development. This problem causes serious losses for social networks and troubles the users.
Accounts of dead people
People are born, they live and die. This is a natural process that is of no control of ours. But this process causes problems for social networks: how is the fact of person’s dying to be detected and what shall be done with his account?
All these are general issues being inherent almost to all social networks. Upon that, one should not forget that in each region its local problems do arise, and there are plenty of the ones.
6. Development peculiarities in Northern America, Europe, and Asia.
The world is developed unevenly and so the social networks are. North America, and first of all the USA, where the network distribution per head is very large, can be considered the most advanced region. Precisely in the USA many popular social networks are founded and developed, and its population becomes the core of popular projects users.
North America and Western Europe
These two geographical regions are the most developed ones in the sphere of economy and IT; they have got a large number of popular social networks of all types. The regions can be called innovative, new ideas are generated and strong startups are created actively here, being transformed into huge corporations within several years.
At present, this market is saturated with social networks of the general type which meet the person’s need for communication. Topical projects, based on topical communication, narrow content and unique services, are paid much attention, but there are still free niches available.
The existing projects strive for expanding onto other regions (for instance, Facebook Company has recently announced its plans for entering the market of China ) and getting qualitatively improved intensively.
It is quite a closed market with numerous peculiarities, which is still marked with big volumes that makes it attractive for many companies. Many of the world’s top-ranking projects have tried and still are trying to expand onto the Asian markets, but it is extremely difficult.
The Asian countries mainly have got their own social networks, being the clones of popular USA analogs to much extent, but there is a high ratio of innovations here as well. Except for India, I think, in which social networks from the North America and Western Europe develop actively.
The market is rather saturated and free niches are getting scarcer and scarcer from year to year.
This is an actively developing market with considerable volumes so far. It falls behind the advanced regions for 3-5 years. The social networks are mainly copied from the popular analogues of the developed countries of the North America and Western Europe, during the last several years much has been copied from Asia that made the market saturated with clones while innovations are still few. Russia is the most developed country in the region, having nearly all popular networks of the region concentrated in it. The market’s falling behind the developed countries has also stimulated investors who make investments into clones with pleasure.
In Eastern Europe there are social networks of the general type being developed actively, upon that, many free niches remain available for lacking topical projects.
Local projects are mainly developed within the frames of the local market; some large companies started considering their expanding onto other regions.
Conclusions: this is certainly just the top of the iceberg as one can write as much as an encyclopedia about social networks. The networks have already penetrated our life very deeply and still continue gaining popularity; their impact is still underestimated so far. At present, the networks of general type are the mainly advanced ones, but in the nearest future new projects will be developed both in their topical and functional matters. Like in any fast-growing segment, there is a number of significant problems, but all these are quite resolvable. In a short time, social networks in the Internet will change the world rather considerably, they have already become a powerful tool of mastery.
The first part of the report: Everything About Social Network Sites. Impact on Humans. Part 1;
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