MySpace one of the most popular social networking sites owned by Rupert Murdoch has a base of over 70 million users. Murdoch reportedly bought the site for $580 millions.
Another site Fropper.com is advertising heavily in India now. They position themselves as a ‘relationships and networks’ site. This indicates that such sites are quite popular in the country.
What is a Social networking site? It’s a site where you can add friends, send messages, put up pictures, and videos, list your likes and dislikes in your profile for others to see, and create communities which others can join.
Ability to be in touch with friends seems to be a major reason for people to be flocking these sites. Sana’a Abdussmat, a communication student who uses Orkut, a networking site from Google says “It is a great way to reconnect wit old friends…some one sent me a message me saying she used to baby sit me!” Orkut has a large member base in the sub-continent. Roslyn M, who lives in Australia testifies, “I have found two of my childhood best friends through Bebo.” She uses Bebo, one more of such sites, which is quite popular in the UK and the Australian continent unlike MySpace that tops the charts in the U.S. People also make new friends worldwide through these sites. “I think these sites are a fantastic way to communicate with people in other countries and is a great way to make friends”, says Ariel from New Zealand
Daniela, a journalist from Brazil points out an interesting reason for the success of these sites as she says, “In this ‘virtual real world’, the people around the world have direct contact with any type of information, culture. Everything is simplified and this kind of relationship's site had arrived to become this ‘frozen world’ in a comfortable place, as a virtual home, where you put a little of you in a profile, a space inside of the great computer network world. You still find old friends, make new friends and feel yourself less lonely in the world.” Daniela refers to the hectic schedule that leaves people feeling lonely and in search of companion.
But there are people who say these sites are addictive and waste of time. “Yes we can relocate old friends but people tend to spend too much time on such sites,” says Avinash Borooah, a communication student who uses Orkut. Sunil Bharti another Orkut user says, “The popularity is basically because these sites are free. If they become paid most of us won't be able to pay or won't pay and we will all lose our contacts with our friends. So it’s better for everybody to maintain a second option like keeping the phone numbers and email addresses.”
However Ryze, which is positioned as a business-networking site, provides facilities such as ability to form of communities in lie of a monthly fee. This does not seem to deter user. Tarun Hukku’s Bangalore Business Network recently reached 5000 members. Tarun pays a monthly fee for the community. The members organize get-togethers for networking, and to come up with help for issues. Testimonials of members of the network showed that it did help their business and work interests.
Youtube.com offers space to members to ‘broadcast’ their videos on the web. It’s a talent show on the web where members share the videos. Some other sites also host talent hunts.
Networking is not the only success story for these sites. The sites are making big money on advertisements too. Recently Fox launched a page on MySpace for the promotion of X-men: The Last Stand. Orkut had offered latest news from the World Cup football. In the next few months MySpace is expected to sign a deal with Google or Microsoft to supply Internet searches on its pages.
From what we have observed, these sites are here to stay despite the fact that some people use such forums as a representation of their perverted minds. But these sites do strive to act in their true form as meeting places of friends who have gone their own ways. “It's useful like most other things that technology blesses you with…but only if it's in the right hands,” sums up Deepak.P, a journalist.
© 2006, Noyon Jyoti Parasara