Current Trends in Online Social Networks
Social networking sites are popular the world over. When Friendster lost popularity in the United States, it continued to grow in popularity in the Pacific Islands. Meanwhile, Chinese users have QQ, Brazilians favor Orkut, Mixi is popular in Japan, and Bebo is very popular in Great Britain and Australia.
As Internet communication technology developed and more applications could be added to a social networking site, the number of features available to users increased drastically, adding to the sites' success. Services such as Facebook allow users to add digital photos and video streams, or build customized applications to enhance personal pages.
Teenagers have become the heaviest users of social networking websites. In 2007, a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 55 percent of teenaged Internet users had created personal profiles on sites like MySpace and Facebook, and that nearly half of them visited these websites at least once daily.
In November 2007, Google launched a service, OpenSocial, designed for the creation of application programming interfaces, or APIs, to be used across the World Wide Web. This is designed to spur the creation of many more programs that will make the Internet even more of a social destination than it already is.
One consequence of the popularity of social networking websites is the drawing of a distinction between Internet users and their online personae. This is typical in MMOGs, where users can take non-human forms, but it is also beginning to take hold on traditional sites as well. The trend may lead to a legal distinction between the rights of people in the real world and in the virtual world. The limited liability persona (LLP), which would be the legal version of a person's online self, is one possible outcome. Another concern is that the ability to create a whole new persona is impacting teen's ability to socially interact in the real world.