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One simple example of such a customized online experience is Facebook and Linked In’s ability to propose possible new friends and contacts.
Many social network users access these services over their mobile phones.Real-time connectivity is required, to ensure that status updates can be accessed and distributed instantly across networks.Geolocalization raises important technical challenges in pinpointing, publishing and disseminating users’ location in space as well as time, as well as questions over personal security.Morgan Stanley estimates that there were about 830 million “unique” users of social networks worldwide at the end of 2009.Based on a total Internet user population of 1.7 billion at the end of 2009, according to ITU’s World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report 2010, this suggests that around half of all Internet users could currently be using social media applications.In the information economy, Pete Cashmore, editor of Mashable (a key information portal for social media services), suggests that your friends may become content curators for your consumption, filtering information such as movies, books and television shows and making recommendations for your leisure time online.
He cites Facebook’s Connect programme as one early example of this.
According to ITU’s report Measuring the Information Society 2010, mobile broadband subscriptions reached an estimated 640 million at the end of 2009, driven by growing demand for smartphones, new applications and social networking services, and are set to exceed 1 billion this year.
The market research firm e Marketer projects that just over 600 million people will use their phones to tap into social networks by 2013, compared with 140 million in 2009.
Facebook passed the historic milestone of 500 million users on 21 July 2010 — if Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous nation in the world after China and India. My Space concentrates on music and entertainment, while Linked In targets career-minded professionals.
Figure 1 shows how many users are drawn to some popular social networks in early 2010. Orkut, a service owned by Google, is used mainly in India and Brazil, while in China, Qzone is reportedly one of the largest social networking sites with over 380 million registered accounts now.
Social networking sites (referred to more broadly as social media) enable users to swap ideas, to post updates and comments, or to participate in activities and events, while sharing their wider interests.