When computer-based software connects people or organizations, it is said to be a social network and if this is web based, it is called online social network. ‘Social Network Sites’ abbreviated as SNS are gaining more and more popularity and membership everyday. The nature of these websites differ in details like some SNS’s connect already existing relations, some encourage new connections, some sites offer platforms to discuss any topic of interest while others work by establishing small online communities of likeminded people or those who share a view on specific phenomenon. All such sites form what is called the social web.
Social network sites enable people to make their selves appear visible via their website profiles. This allows for new contacts to be made; however, according to Haythorntwaite, though these SNS’s are rich in presenting personal and profile details in any desirable manner, most people use these websites to stay connected with their pre existing contacts rather than creating new ones. While describing basic structure of SNS’s, Cachia has stated in a research paper, that social websites usually have three features common; namely: a profile, list of contacts and social networking.
1.2 History of Online Social Networking
According to Cachia, the first SNS appeared on the internet around 1995. Social networking was initially limited to rebinding ties with class fellows or dating; but with time, as more and more SNS’s emerged, this focus broadened. In 1997 another novel SNS emerged., namely: sixdegrees.com (Ellison & Boyd, 2007). Six degrees combined three main features including provision of sending messages, connecting with friends/strangers and presenting one’s self via profile; however this site according to Ellison & Boyd (2007) wasn’t a big success and had to be closed in 2000; mainly because most people were at that time reluctant to connect with people whom they did not already knew offline. MySpace is another SNS, launched with the idea of connecting people in mind, however since the website allowed uploading of up to 4 MP4 videos, it rapidly gained more popularity as a music promotion platform (Cachia, 2008). My Space was launched at a time when another famous SNS, ‘Friends finder’ was deleting fake accounts and reviewing its censor policy; one reason for the popularity of My space as per Cachia (2008) was perhaps that it allowed room for fakesters (people holding fake profiles) in addition to freedom of posting anything online which was not destructive. The next development in the history of SNS is marked by launching of Ryze.com, which was the first initiative in promoting business via online social networking; though developed on lines similar to those of Ryze.com, LinkedIn soon overtook ‘Ryze.com’ and ‘friends finder’ popularity wise (Ellison & Boyd, 2007). The launch of ‘