The Evolution of Online Social Networks

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Abstract— In this article, we explore the evolution of Online Social Networks (OSNs) by providing a brief history, evaluate the benefits and disadvantages and focus its impact in our society. We also share an historical perspective view of Facebook and refer some issues related to social networking sites in general.

Index Terms— Social Network Sites, Media sharing, Facebook


The possibility of being in contact with a person anywhere around the world is not a fiction today. However this was not something that came from nowhere, but rather due to some factors that favored the evolution and popularity of Online Social Networks (OSNs).

There are hundreds of OSNs created for a specific target audience but only those that were designed for diverse audiences were really succeeded in past decade – example: Facebook.

There are also social network sites focused to particular niches like LinkedIn, a business-related social networking site.

Most of these websites encourage members to create their own profiles containing some basic information like name, age, birthday, current city and hometown. Users are allowed to share their interests or activities and update their status with what they are doing at that time.

Others social network sites have extra features such as the possibility to create events and private or public groups that shares common interests and promote discussions about various topics.

A great feature provided by a large majority of these networks is a search option that allows any registered user or a simple visitor search profiles according to the name, gender, age, location, activity and interests. This clearly raises privacy concerns about what we must share in our profiles, especially in public-profiles.

To protect member’s privacy, most of social network sites have privacy settings that allow users to control their own privacy by choosing who can view their profile, contact them and include them to their friend lists for example.

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