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Facebook isn’t the only online community with a captive audience.

IT IS no coincidence the Academy Award-winning account of Facebook’s meteoric growth was entitled The Social Network.


After all, with more than 800 million active users globally and at least 250 million photos uploaded every day, the little blue website that started in 2004 as a mere side project to co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s university studies is now – indisputably – the social network.

Having long ago knocked the once-mighty MySpace out of its spot as the world’s No.1 social-networking website, Facebook is proving unassailable, even to fellow tech behemoth Google.

Google +

Google plus.com

Google’s social network, the four-month-old Google+, has lured just 40 million users.




The sign up page of Linkedin.com.
Business networking site LinkedIn has more than 120 million users.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped others from trying to shove Zuckerberg and his mates off their lofty perches.

Among the hundreds, if not thousands, of wannabe Facebook killers, only a few dozen have garnered serious numbers.



We might have all heard of Twitter (200 million-plus users) and perhaps even LinkedIn (120 million-plus users) but, especially in other parts of the world, none of these, not even Facebook, is king.

My space


Why? Because though such mind-boggling figures matter when you’re courting investors or advertising dollars, they don’t if you are truly trying to create a social network where like-minded people can mingle, as is evidenced by the surprising number of smaller communities based purely on niche interests, such as languages, lifestyles or even a love of a specific animal, that appear with surprising regularity.



With a whopping 480 million-plus users, QZone is bigger than Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace (33 million-plus) put together.

It is the No.1 social network in mainland China, where Twitter and Facebook are banned. It’s not entirely free, with many features only accessible after paying a fee that allows users to access a Twitter-like micro blog, instant messaging, photo sharing and music streaming.



Just 19 months old, the invitation-only Pinterest is a highly addictive image-based social network where users share their favourite images with friends.

It might not sound terribly interesting but for right-brained creative types who love collecting pictures of ”stuff”, it’s a digital dream. It allows users to share ideas and concepts that couldn’t possibly be conveyed in words.

Businesses such as ad agencies and graphic designers use it to get a feel for what clients want. Those planning weddings use it as a digital cork board filled with dress designs, ideas for cakes and colour schemes.



Founded by Swedish banker Erik Wachtmeister and his wife, Countess Louise Wachtmeister, ASMALLWORLD is an invitation-only social network for ”the elite” who don’t want to rub shoulders, even digitally, with the hoi polloi.

It is thought to have about 500,000 users, including James Blunt and Ivanka Trump, among others, and allows them to discuss important matters such as fine dining in the world’s great cities, seek out appropriately vetted flat mates and, most importantly, socialise with those of their own fine, well-bred and well-heeled ilk. Of course, we can’t verify any of this – we’ve never scored an invite.



Snap-happy iPhone owners can share their daily goings-on via photos, which can be edited on the fly. It’s like Facebook without words or Twitter using only pictures.

Snap a picture and upload it to your Instagram profile to let your friends and followers know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and where such excitement is occurring. You can’t even add a caption (but you can leave a comment).

Depending on how interesting – or good – your happy snaps are, others will start following and interacting with you and you’ll see some stunning photography. With more than 1 million photos shared every day, it is absolutely mesmerising and lets you do something useful with that bursting iPhone Camera Roll.



Owned by Google, the multilingual Orkut was once massive in India and Pakistan – until Facebook came along.

Now its biggest audience is Brazil, where 58.7 per cent of its 66 million or so users reside. Indians make up 28 per cent of users, while Japan is the third-largest community – but only at 5.3 per cent.

Orkut offers a simple, youth-oriented interface that includes lots of ”cute” teen-friendly features such as ”cool” rankings. One of its most clever features is the ability to add people to your ”Crush List”, where, if both members independently add each other, they will be informed of their mutual admiration. It adds a digital twist to the age-old, angst-ridden notion of unrequited love.



Netscape co-founder (and tech guru) Marc Andreessen is behind Ning, a DIY social-networking service that lets the likes of you and me take on Mr Zuckerberg. Well, not quite.

But you can build a website or social network based on your design and target market. Plans start from about $3.95 a month for a basic, home-spun social-networking site with no more than 150 users; you’ll pay between $29.95 (up to 10,000 members) and $59.95 (unlimited members) a month if your user base grows. Depending on which subscription plan you choose, you’ll be able to offer many of the features included on ”real” social networks, from live chat and photo sharing to uploading video in branded media players

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Despite many registering their ‘dislike’, the social network’s new features are here to stay.

WHEN Facebook revamped many of its most heavily used features lately, millions of users were not exactly happy. For days, the hashtag #newFacebook on Twitter was a litany of complaints: the new features were too busy, too complicated, too ”un-Facebook”.

But the changes – which chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook brains trust see as the most important since the addition of games and other software apps in 2007 – are not going away. Perhaps the biggest innovation, a feature called Timeline, which Zuckerberg calls ”the story of your life”, isn’t even officially available yet.

Facebook is taking the main feature people use to keep up with the activities of their friends and splitting it into two: Ticker and News Feed.

The significant addition is Ticker, a virtually unfiltered, automatically updating stream of the actions of your friends. Ticker, which scrolls down the upper right side of the home page, is supposed to provide a real-time sense of what your friends, and the brands and businesses you like, are doing at any moment.

By clicking a Ticker item, you can join in instantly – from sending a happy birthday wish, to friending someone your friend is friending, to listening to the new Wilco album through the Spotify app.

The stream of Stories that runs down the centre of the home page is still there but it has been changed.

Since it was launched five years ago, News Feed has been a primary way people keep track of their friends. ”[It] is the lifeblood of Facebook,” says Meredith Chin, a communications manager for the company.

You used to be able to toggle back and forth between Top Stories, the posts Facebook’s algorithms judged most interesting to you, and Most Recent, the freshest content. Now, there is one News Feed with the content Facebook judges to be most interesting based on your interests and social connections.

Relationships on Facebook used to be two-way connections; both parties had to agree. Now the Subscribe button allows you to create one-way relationships with anyone, just like Twitter.

Celebrities or leading business figures on Facebook are unlikely to agree to friend requests from millions of fans. But by visiting their profile pages and clicking Subscribe, every post publicly shows up on a News Feed. Existing friends are automatically subscribed to each other but the feature allows you to adjust whether you want to see all their posts, some of them or only the most important ones – useful for people you don’t dislike enough to unfriend but who share too much.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha