Social Networking: the Growth Potential and Challenges

By: Nisha Garg

Social Networking refers to a formation of an online community. This network facilitates the users to interact for a common purpose and enables them to share mutual views, images, videos regarding any aspect under the Sun. The prospective users are encouraged to initiate constructive discussion on the topic of their interest with like-minded people. This networking system also facilitates grouping of friends or family members. with the liberalisation and globalisation, the freedom of expression has now crossed all the boundaries of world. It has acted as a catalyst for the growth of online community portals.

Nineties of the last century witnessed a significant growth in social networking websites. After some early debacles including Usenet, ARPANET, LISTSERV, the first full fledged social networking site classmates came in the year 1995 for the students of Harvard university. Then SixDegrees.com (1997) dominated the arena. The last two years of twentieth century marked the mushrooming of websites for socialising purpose.

For the last 3-4 years, India is experiencing a high demand for social networking websites. Take the example of recently launched community portal YouTring. It is a conglomeration of various user friendly Internet features like social networking, IP telephony, online gaming, shopping, video & photo sharing, short messaging service and e-mails under one domain name. Apart from all these attractive specifications this website also offers a reward points system, as well as a refer-and-earn program. Based on the noble concept of "no effort remains unrewarded", this website also offers the unique opportunity of earning while surfing. The user can earn Trings, which is form of online currency. This is offered to the user for calling and SMS plans. Apart from direct points, this website also exciting gifts like iPods and mobile phones etc

Social networking is at its nascent stage in India. Though the growth potential is unbound, the underlying challenges are also bulky. Take the example of the famous social website Orkut. It was recently into trouble for groups that criticised famous historical figures like Chatrapati Shivaji who is revered by significant sections of the Indian populace. Though freedom of speech and expression is the pillar of Indian constitution, hurting any body's sentiment is a serious crime. The social networking websites should take a serious note of it.

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