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INTRODUCTION A social networking is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Online community services are sometimes considered as a social network service, though in a broader sense, social network service usually means an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks. Social networking venues have taken root in this generation and have revolutionized the way that personal interactions take shape. These websites allow people to easily post photographs, videos, and other information online to share with others, usually at little or no cost. The extreme ease with which anyone can obtain an online profile begs the question as to what types of materials are being laid out for the world to see. It is important for students, in particular students who will likely be working in a health care field, to understand that their actions online have the very real possibility of causing problems in their everyday lives. The main types of social networking services are those which contain category places (such as former school year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages) and a recommendation system linked to trust. Popular methods now combine many of these, with Facebook and Twitter widely used worldwide, Nexopia (mostly in Canada); Bebo, VKontakte, Hi5, Hyves (mostly in The Netherlands), (mostly in Latvia), StudiVZ (mostly in Germany), iWiW (mostly in Hungary), Tuenti (mostly in Spain), NaszaKlasa (mostly in Poland), Decayenne, Tagged, XING, Badoo and Skyrock in parts of Europe; Orkut and Hi5 in South America and Central America; and Mixi, Multiply, Orkut, Wretch, Renren and Cyworld in Asia and the Pacific Islands and LinkedIn and Orkut are very popular in India. Past research has been conducted on the types of people who frequent social networking sites and found that the majority of users are college students who live at home. Other work found that the types of materials on a personal profile and the level of activity by the user could be factors that indicate a high level of narcissism. Narcissistic tendencies may increase the level of personal disclosure and unprofessional content. Another group of researchers examined how the number of friends a user has accumulated on their social networking site affects whether an outside visitor to their public profile perceives them negatively or

positively. They found a negative relationship between number of friends on Facebook and positive views of that individual. Prior research examining the types of content that is being shared by medical students and residents and students at a small Midwestern university found high levels of unprofessional content and personal information being disclosed. The current study examined how undergraduate psychology majors utilize Facebook by gathering data on their level of publicly accessible information and the rate of unprofessional content. As popular as Facebook is, and as easy as it is to access personal profiles, specifically on the same network, it would be easy for a potential employer or admissions administrator to gain access to information that could be seen as unprofessional and inappropriate. Therefore, it is important for students to maintain their privacy and only allow certain types of information that they feel to be of no threat to their reputation to be accessible to the public. This is a new and relatively unstudied phenomenon, as in no other time during history has it been so easy to share information with so many people in such a remarkably sophisticated way. HISTORY The potential for computer networking to facilitate new forms of computer-mediated social interaction was suggested early on. Efforts to support social networks via computer-mediated communication were made in many early online services, including Usenet, ARPANET, LISTSERV, and bulletin board services (BBS). Many prototypical features of social networking sites were also present in online services such as America Online, Prodigy, and CompuServe. Early social networking on the World Wide Web began in the form of generalized online communities such as (1995), Geocities (1994) and (1995). Many of these early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and encouraged users to share personal information and ideas via personal webpages by providing easy-to-use publishing tools and free or inexpensive webspace. Some communities - such as - took a different approach by simply having people link to each other via email addresses. In the late 1990s, user profiles became a central feature of social networking sites, allowing users to compile lists of "friends" and search for other users with similar interests. New social networking methods were developed by the end of the 1990s, and many sites began to develop more advanced features for users to find and manage friends. This newer generation of social networking sites began to flourish with the emergence of in 1997, followed by Makeoutclub in 2000, Friendster in 2002, and soon became part of the Internet mainstream. Friendster was followed by MySpace and LinkedIn a year later, and finally, Bebo. Attesting to the rapid increase in social networking sites' popularity, by 2005, MySpace was reportedly getting more page views than Google. Facebook, launched in 2004, has since become the largest social networking site in the world. Today, it is estimated that there are now over

200 active sites using a wide variety of social networking models. May 2011: Based on TNS research, the global average of which access daily the social networking sites accounts is 46 percent. GROWTH RATE OF THE SOCIAL NETWORKING INDUSTRY The data doesnt deny that Facebook has come to dominate social networking in the US, and overtook MySpace in 2009. But MySpaces 57 million US unique users are nothing to sneeze at its still a top web property with users who are highly engaged. The second tier networks, such as Tagged, Hi5, MyYearbook and Bebo, still receive an impressive 36 million uniques per month, and users spend a fair amount of time on those sites. BlackPlanet users spent 3.6 minutes longer interacting with the site than the average Facebook visitor. MyYearbook and Tagged users were on these sites more than 3 minutes longer than the average MySpace visitor. There is definitely addictive behavior occuring on these other sites. Nielsen published stats showing that three of the worlds most popular brands online are social-media related (Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia) and the world now spends over 110 billion minutes on social networks and blog sites. This equates to 22 percent of all time online or one in every four and half minutes. For the first time ever, social network or blog sites are visited by three quarters of global consumers who go online, after the numbers of people visiting these sites increased by 24% over last year. The average visitor spends 66% more time on these sites than a year ago, almost 6 hours in April 2010 versus 3 hours, 31 minutes last year. Facebook Facebook keeps its stats page updated, and boasts over 350 million users. Facebook has announced 400 million users on February, 2010. Facebook demonstrates growth in total number of visitors (now over Yahoo, for second place) and a high degree of attention (time on site). Facebook has surged past Yahoo as the number two most popular site in the U.S., drawing nearly 134 million unique visitors in January, 2010. LinkedIn It has 60 million users worldwide. Over the past year, network has seen a significant amount of growth, especially internationally. As of last December, the network had 55 million members, so its grown by 5 million in less than two months. In October, LinkedIns networks CEO, Jeff Weiner, said in the post that half of LinkedIns membership is international. Tagged

Total registered users are 100 million. Global monthly unique visitors are 16 million. Daily users are 3.5 million. Average of 75,000 100,000 people daily register on Tagged. Twitter Sysmos launched a report about global usage of Twitter, with most adoption in US. Interesting fact is the number of U.S. unique users was 50.8%, a sharp drop from 62.1%. This suggests the use of Twitter outside the U.S. has experienced significant growth over the past six months. Data indicates that many Twitter users are not active. The number of Twitter users has climbed to a lofty 75 million, but the growth rate of new users is slowing and a lot of current Twitterers are inactive. Twitter themselves finally publish numbers indicating there are 50 million tweets created each day. People were tweeting 5,000 times a day in 2007. By 2008, that number was 300,000, and by 2009 it had grown to 2.5 million per day. Tweets grew 1,400% last year to 35 million per day. Today, we are seeing 50 million tweets per day, thats an average of 600 tweets per second. Twitter co-owner Biz Stone has revealed that the site now has 105 million registered users. He revealed the startling number at a Twitter developer conference, aptly title Chirp, and also mentioned that 30,000 people a day are signing up to tweet.

SEGMENTATION The market for Facebook is normally made up of several segments. A market after all is the aggregate of users using Facebook as a product. And users, who make a market, are of varying characteristics and behaviour. There are different factors contributing for varying mind set of the users. It is thus natural that many differing segments occur within a market. In order to capture this heterogeneous market Facebook, usually divides or disintegrates the market into a number of sub-markets/segments and the process is known as market segmentation. Thus we can say that market segmentation is the segmentation of markets into homogenous groups of users, each of them reacting differently to promotion, communication, and other variables of the marketing mix strategy of Facebook. Market segments should be formed in that way that difference between buyers within each segment is as small as possible. Attributes of effective market segmentation Market segmentation is resorted to for achieving certain practical purpose. For this to happen, the segments arrived at must meet certain criteria such as:

Identifiable: The differentiating attributes of the segments must be measurable so that they can be identified. The segments of Facebook are easily measurable and so they can be easily identified. Accessible: The segments must be reachable through communication and distribution channels. In todays world Facebook can easily reach the segments through communication such as email, newspaper, television, etc. Sizeable: The segments should be sufficiently large to justify the resources required to target them. A very small segment may not serve commercial exploitation. In this case the segments of Facebook are not the problem because we know from the data that Facebook has around 400 million users as on February 2010. Profitable: There is no use in locating segments that are sizeable but not profitable. Facebook can avoid those segments which do not want to use Facebook at all. This segment generally consists of those people who think that social networking sites are a waste of time. Unique needs: To justify separate offerings, the segments must respond differently to the different marketing mixes. Each and every segment will respond differently to the different marketing mixes offered by Facebook. For e.g. if Facebook launches a new application that is very appealing then the segment consisting of youngsters will respond very positively. Measurable: The potential of the segments as well as the effect of a specific marketing mix on them should be measurable. Its easy for Facebook to measure the potential of all the segments because Facebook has an extensive database of the users and records all the moves made by its users.

Levels of market segmentation Facebook is turning to micromarketing these days by choosing one of the four levels Segment Marketing: Facebook divides the market into different segments on the basis of homogenous need. For e.g. Facebook targets the youth aged between 15-25 years for keeping in touch with friends (93%). Here all the youth have generally only one homogenous need i.e. keeping in touch with friends. Facebook also segments on the basis of broad similarity with regard to some attributes mentioned above. Facebook sometimes identifies captures & retains potential new markets especially in countries such as India & Brazil where Orkut is more popular. Individual Marketing: Extreme marketing in which Facebook sometimes focuses on individual users. For e.g. if a user joins the community named Jobs then Facebook will display job

advertisements in the users profile only. Facebook keeps track of tastes & preferences of individual users. Niche Marketing: Facebook effort to position its website in smaller markets that have similar attributes. For e.g. in China, India or in Brazil where Baidu & Orkut respectively are more popular. Local Marketing: Facebook offer customized products to suit the local markets. For e.g. Facebook offers it website in local languages in their respective regions.

Basis for Segmentation Geographical Segmentation: Potential users of Facebook are present in almost all the corners of the world. Facebook is present in 190 countries. Demographic Segmentation: Segmentation of the users based on the demographic factors are o Age: Facebook has generally segmented itself towards the youth whose age is between 15-25 years. o Income: Facebook can be used by users across all income groups. o Purchasing power: Facebook can be used by anyone from low purchasing power to high purchasing power. o Gender: Facebook is used by all gender groups. o Occupation: Facebook is used by people from all occupational groups. Psychographic Segmentation: Facebook as a product can identify the segment whose users have an average lifestyle or above average. The users with such lifestyles can afford personal computers and so Facebook can identify such segments. Behaviouristic Segmentation: Facebook segments the market on the basis of users behaviour. If the users are very much interested in using the social networking sites then facebook should identify that particular segment and target it. The primary idea in users behaviour segmentation is that different user groups expect different benefits from the same product and accordingly, they will be different in their motives in using Facebook. Variables of users behaviour are: o Benefit sought: Users using Facebook generally want good quality of service and also expect the Facebook platform to look good. o Usage rate: Users of Facebook range from heavy to light. o User status: Users are generally regular users with few first time and occasional users. o Brand loyalty: Users generally remain loyal to Facebook. o Attitude towards offering: Users have shown good enthusiasm and positive attitude towards Facebook.

Worldwide social networking industry market size is 0.58 billion. Latest data suggest 222 million unique hits for Facebook and 130 million hits for MySpace. Market share of the social networking sites by visits Ran k 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Websites Facebook Youtube Twitter Yahoo! Answers Tagged MySpace LinkedIn iVillage myYearbook MyLife Visits Share 65.24 % 19.60 % 1.32 % 1.03 % 0.75 0.63 0.56 0.44 0.44 0.32 % % % % % %

Social Networking sites used by social network users Facebook Generation Z 61 % Generation Y 65 % Generation X 76 % Baby Boomers 73 % MySpace 65 % 75 % 57 % 40 % Twitter 9% 14 % 18 % 13 % LinkedIn 0% 9% 13 % 13 %

Various reasons why people are using these sites Baby Boome rs 62 % WW2 Generati on 57 %

Generati on Z Keeping in touch with friends For fun Keeping in touch with family Invited to use the site by someone

Generati on Y

Generati on X

Tot al 75 % 55 % 41 % 30 %

93 %

82 %

71 %

91 %

61 %

51 %

38 %

30 %

27 %

40 %

40 %

47 %

51 %

22 %

22 %

30 %

46 %

60 %

Keeping in touch with classmates Keeping in touch with business network Job searching Business development/s ales Searching for information Others TARGETING

39 %

40 %

27 %

12 %

10 %

30 %



12 %



3% 1%

4% 6%

10 % 4%

1% 4%

4% 3%

1% 6% 3%

1% 5%

0% 3%

0% 5%

1% 4%

Targeting generally involves breaking a market into segments and then concentrating your marketing efforts on one or a few key segments. In general Facebook targets users across all boundaries. There is no such thing as a selected target market for Facebook. Targeting Strategies Single segment strategy: Also known as the concentrated strategy. Facebook targets only one market segment and not the entire market. For e.g. Facebook can target only those segments who are only interested in interacting with their friends or who are only interested in finding various products through advertisement displayed in Facebook. Selective specialization: This is a multiple-segment strategy, also known as a differentiated strategy. Facebook offers different marketing mixes to different segments. Facebook as a product does not vary in any of the segments but only the promotional message or the distribution channels may vary. Product specialization: Facebook specializes in a particular product i.e. itself and tailors it to different market segments. For e.g. job seekers, information seekers, interacting with friends, etc. Full market coverage: Facebook attempts to serve the entire market. This coverage can be achieved by means of either a mass market strategy in which a single undifferentiated marketing mix is offered to the entire market.


The position of Facebook is the sum of those attributes normally ascribed to it by the users: its standing, its quality, the type of people who use it, its strengths, its weaknesses, any other unusual or memorable characteristics it may possess, its price and the value it represents. Positioning of Facebook can be explained as, Facebooks position is how the users see the product. Approaches of Positioning The main positioning strategy is either developing or reinforcing a particular image for the brand in the mind of the user. Customer benefit approach: This is an important positioning strategy. It involves putting the brand above competitors, based on specific brand attributes and customer benefit. In the social networking industry we can see Facebook give emphasis on different technical aspects such as quality, good interface, easy to operate, user friendly, strict privacy, etc. Often we can see that Facebook attempts to position itself along with two or more characteristic simultaneously like informing user that there are more than 52000+ applications which are more than any other applications provided by competitors. This is done to give an extra edge from its rival. The use & application approach: Facebook is positioned with the use & application approach. Fore.g. Facebook claims to have more than 52000 applications the largest provider of applications. The product user approach: In this approach Facebook identifies and determines the target segement for which the product will be positioned. For e.g. Facebook is positioned for all age groups. The product class approach: This approach is used so that Facebook is associated with a particular product category. This is generally used when a category is too crowded. Facebook because of its nature has positioned itself as a general purpose social network as it has gone for market growth.

Basis for Positioning Benefit: Facebook positions itself with some beneficial features. For e.g. privacy. Gender: Facebook positions itself across all genders. Technology & value added features: Positioning of Facebook according to its technological advancement and value added features.


1) Simple, friendly & easy to use. 2) Biggest social networking site. 3) Huge active user base. 4) Popular Platform for application development. 5) Present in all geographies. 6) Translated in over 40 languages. 7) E-mail and chat are integrated.

1) Weak at monetizing the user base and delivering a high number of ads per user. 2) Inability to manage application feeds leading to clutter on the website & reactions from users. 3) Most of Facebook apps cant be played on mobile devices.

OPPORTUNITY 1) Advertising is moving towards targeted ads and not blanked advertising. Facebook is perfectly positioned for this since it has a huge amount of personal user information and preferences. 2) Improve email and chat. 3) Encourage developers to create great apps by creating contests, giving rewards. 4) Guide developers to develop games in Facebook that could be played on mobile

O-S 1) Increase targeted advertisements and develop local ads A way of showing products relevant to the users location. 2) Improve quality of the integrated email and chat apps.

O-W 1) Work on ways to reduce the increasing amount of clutter on FB homepages. 2) Create more monetization opportunities

devices iPad).


THREATS 1) Social networking audience is fickle and they frequently shift providers. 2) People may grow tired of the highly structured FB and move to MySpace. 3) People have privacy concern with Facebook. 4) Risk of losing young, hip image

T-S 1) Try to deliver localized content and ads (i.e. move beyond the language translations). 2) Improve development platform on aspects like security, privacy, and monetization and limit clutter.

T-W 1) Always keep enhancing and innovating features to keep users coming back to the website. 2) Increase opportunities to customize pages without ruining design

PRODUCT MARKET EXPANSION GRID OF FACEBOOK MARKET PENETRATION 1) Facebook continues to add new members and their associated content at an extremely fast pace, with most new growth coming from international markets. 2) Facebook enjoys a 24% market penetration across all 30 countries, including complete domination in Chile and Turkey. 3) Now translated into over 100 languages, Facebook has penetrated nearly one third of the entire national population in multiple developed markets, and we expect this to be true of many more countries in the near future. 4) Penetration in the various continents increases by: PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT 1) Facebook has 52000+ applications available and it has sophisticated ways of spreading the word that an application has been installed. It informs your whole friend list & gets your friends to try it too. 2) Facebook is skilled at viral marketing. 3) Also, Facebook allows developers to monetize without interference on their portion of the page. 4) Facebook has developed many features like providing applications, online gaming experience, easy sharing of photos, videos, etc so users connect to facebook more than any other social

Africa (0.6 %), Asia Pacific (0.3 %), Europe (7.5 %), North America (7.2 %) & South America (3.6 %). 5) Advertising deal with Microsoft offers Facebook guaranteed revenues. It aims at creating an attractive combination for advertisers. Facebook can benefit from the Microsoft adCenter system, which allows advertisers to filter their targets so that their ads are relevant. 6) Also Facebook acquired ConnectU & FriendFeed which were competitors in the social networking field.

networking sites. 5) Facebook has photo sharing application on the web which has more than 2.7 billion photos on the site and more than 14 million are uploaded daily. The photo application draws more than twice as much traffic as the next three sites combined. 6) Facebook Flyers let users to make their own ads on Facebook at low prices. The price is based on how many times the Flyer is viewed. Flyers are displayed on the left side of Facebook pages, with the possibility to: Choose targets by both gender and age, target specific colleges, and go further by specifying the education status desired (undergrad, gradstudent, alumni) & select regional networks you want your ad to be displayed on. DIVERSIFICATION 1) Facebook machine which like ATM, an internet connected machine, connects to the Facebook servers. 2) Facebook connect card which is like ATM card, can be used for accessing the persons Facebook account. 3) The company received negative reviews about its new service allowing users to better keep track of their friends and what they are doing.

MARKET DEVELOPMENT 1) Here Facebook targets different geographical markets such as Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia Pacific. 2) Facebook sells the same product through different sales channels like online where there is a small facebook icon f or through tv commercials. 3) Individuals aged 18 to 34 spend 8.5 hours/week, 35 to 54 spend 7.5 hours/week and 55+ spend 4.6 hours/week on Facebook. 4) People from different ethnicity

like Caucasian spend 7.5 hours/week, African American spend 7.8 hours/week, Hispanic spend 5.5 hours/week and Asians spend 10.6 hours/week on Facebook. CURRENT ISSUES OF THE SOCIAL NETWORKING INDUSTRY PRIVACY Privacy concerns with social networking services have been raised growing concerns amongst users on the dangers of giving out too much personal information and the threat of sexual predators. Users of these services also need to be aware of data theft or viruses. However, large services, such as MySpace and Netlog, often work with law enforcement to try to prevent such incidents. In addition, there is a perceived privacy threat in relation to placing too much personal information in the hands of large corporations or governmental bodies, allowing a profile to be produced on an individual's behaviour on which decisions, detrimental to an individual, may be taken. Furthermore, there is an issue over the control of datainformation that was altered or removed by the user may in fact be retained and/or passed to third parties. This danger was highlighted when the controversial social networking site Quechup harvested e-mail addresses from users' e-mail accounts for use in a spamming operation. In medical and scientific research, asking subjects for information about their behaviours is normally strictly scrutinized by institutional review boards, for example, to ensure that adolescents and their parents have informed consent. It is not clear whether the same rules apply to researchers who collect data from social networking sites. These sites often contain a great deal of data that is hard to obtain via traditional means. Even though the data are public, republishing it in a research paper might be considered invasion of privacy. Privacy on social networking sites can be undermined by many factors. For example, users may disclose personal information, sites may not take adequate steps to protect user privacy, and third parties frequently use information posted on social networks for a variety of purposes. "For the net generation, social networking sites have become the preferred forum for social interactions, from posturing and role playing to simply sounding off. However, because such forums are relatively easy to access, posted content can be reviewed by anyone with an interest in the users' personal information".

Following plans by the UK government to monitor traffic on social networks schemes similar to E-mail jamming have been proposed for networks such as Twitter and Facebook. These would involve "friending" and "following" large numbers of random people to thwart attempts at network analysis. DATA MINING Through data mining, companies are able to improve their sales and profitability. With this data, companies create customer profiles that contain customer demographics and online behaviour. A recent strategy has been the purchase and production of network analysis software. This software is able to sort out through the influx of social networking data for any specific company. Facebook has been especially important to marketing strategists. Facebooks controversial and new Social Ads program gives companies access to the millions of profiles in order to tailor their ads to a Facebook users own interests and hobbies. However, rather than sell actual user information, Facebook sells tracked social actions. That is, they track the websites a user uses outside of Facebook through a program called Facebook Beacon. ACCESS TO INFORMATION A perfect example to demonstrate two important sides of a coin would be the fact that popular social networking websites like Orkut were criticized for not having filters to prevent unauthorized online users to access a user profile. The gaps were addressed and profile/profile feature locks were put in place but now most parents complain that they are not able to monitor the online activities of their children. MISUSE Misuse of social networking websites is quite a common characteristic witnessed these days. Profile impersonation where a user uploads someone elses profile claiming to be the original and is aimed towards maligning the reputation of the individual is a common occurrence now. The relative freedom afforded by social networking services has caused concern regarding the potential of its misuse by individual patrons. In October 2006, a fake MySpace profile created in the name of Josh Evans by Lori Janine Drew led to the suicide of Megan Meier. The event incited global concern regarding the use of social networking services for bullying purposes. In July 2008, a Briton, Grant Raphael, was ordered to pay a total of GBP 22,000 (about USD $44,000) for libel and breach of privacy. Raphael had posted a fake page on Facebook purporting to be that of a former school friend Matthew Firsht, with whom Raphael had fallen out in 2000. The page falsely claimed that Firsht was homosexual and that he was dishonest.

At the same time, genuine use of social networking services has been treated with suspicion on the ground of the services' misuse. In September 2008, the profile of Australian Facebook user Elmo Keep was banned by the site's administrators on the grounds that it violated the site's terms of use. Keep is one of several users of Facebook who were banned from the site on the presumption that their names aren't real, as they bear resemblance the names of characters like Sesame Street's Elmo. RISK OF CHILD SAFETY Citizens and governments have been concerned by a misuse by child and teenagers of social networking services, particularly in relation to online sexual predators. A certain number of actions have been engaged by governments to better understand the problem and find some solutions. A 2008 panel concluded that technological fixes such as age verification and scans are relatively ineffective means of apprehending online predators. Also in a documented fact several cases of paedophilia using the social networking websites as a disguise have been unearthed recently thereby making for the most vocal protests against the social networking websites. ONLINE BULLYING Online bullying, also called cyber-bullying, is a relatively common occurrence and it can often result in emotional trauma for the victim. Depending on the networking outlet, up to 39% of users admit to being cyber-bullied. Danah Boyd, a researcher of social networks quotes a teenager in her article, Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites. The teenager expresses frustration towards networking sites like MySpace because it causes drama and too much emotional stress. There are not many limitations as to what individuals can post when online. Inherently individuals are given the power to post offensive remarks or pictures that could potentially cause a great amount of emotional pain for another individual. INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION Interpersonal communication has been a growing issue as more and more people have turned to social networking as a means of communication. "Benniger (1987) describes how mass media has gradually replaced interpersonal communication as a socializing force. Further, social networking sites have become popular sites for youth culture to explore themselves, relationships, and share cultural artefacts". Many teens and social networking users may be harming their interpersonal communication by using sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Stated by Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University Neuroscientist, "My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small

children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment." The convenience which social network sites give users to communicate with one another can also damage their interpersonal communication. Sherry Turkle, the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, stated, Networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we feel utterly alone. And there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed--and only for the parts we find useful, comforting, or amusing. Furthermore, social network sites can create insincere friendships, Turkle also noted, They nurture friendships on social-networking sites and then wonder if they are among friends. They become confused about companionship. PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKING As social networking sites have risen in popularity over the past years, people have been spending an excess amount of time on social networking sites and on the Internet in general. The excessive amount of time that people spend on social networking sites has led researchers to debate the establishment of Internet addiction as an actual clinical disorder. Social networking can also affect the extent to which a person feels lonely. In a Newsweek article, Johannah Cornblatt explains Socialnetworking sites like Facebook and MySpace may provide people with a false sense of connection that ultimately increases loneliness in people who feel alone. John T. Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, claims that social networking can foster feelings of sensitivity to disconnection, which can lead to loneliness. PATENTS There has been rapid growth in the number of US patent applications that cover new technologies related to social networking. The number of published applications has been growing rapidly since 2003. There are now over 3500 published applications. As many as 7000 applications may be currently on file including those that haven't been published yet. Only about 400 of these applications have issued as patents, however, largely due to the multi-year backlog in examination of business method patents and the difficulty in getting these patent applications allowed. It has been reported that social networking patents are important for the establishment of new start-up companies. It has also been reported, however, that social networking patents inhibit innovation.