Ever since Mark Zuckerberg started tinkering around with a little-known pet project in his room in Harvard, a small self-written program that would eventually come to be known the world over as facebook, the dawn of the social network sites has been furious and all-encompassing. What was once a passing amusement amongst only the most internet-savvy of students in a small population of U.S. schools is now one of the world's premiere website with a nearly incalculable total value.
Social network sites do far more than connect people with their friends, families and co-workers. They allow for the sharing of complex media and information across the globe instantaneously. They bring together strangers living in vastly different countries and unite them via mutual shared interests. Social network sites are furthermore intelligent; they track the browsing behavior of their users and compile this data in conjunction with self-described interests and hobbies in order to generate content that is directly relevant to each user's age, gender, location, personality and profession. Social network sites operate across nearly every platform of modern computers and are accessed by millions of mobile users daily.
In the latest phase of the monetized internet, social sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have driven both small business and major corporations to new heights of success. Social network sites have become synonymous with online advertising campaigns, product awareness, and self-branding activities that have empowered businesses and individual users of all age groups to reach diverse audiences for the purposes of professional exposure, personal marketing, and pure vanity. Social media sites allow companies to launch sophisticated marketing campaigns which incentivize individual participation via special discounts, exclusive content or giveaways. These internet campaigns essentially allow marketers to recruit indviduals to self-report their own networks of family and friends in order to reach viral levels of advertising penetration.
Perhaps the largest indication of the global importance of these sites comes in the special deference granted to them by other major websites. The major social network sites have become such an integral part of the web that other sites, be they online shopping centers, content hosts, or professional company domains, all feature one-click instant connection capability for Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. This unprecendented level of intermingling between business sites, government sites, and public agencies with social media sites demonstrates exactly how inescapable the latter have become. It is almost certain that, as Social network sites, which specialize in connectivity, continue to make their mark on global commerce and interaction, they will only continue to become more and more integral to the future of the internet.