These are the absolute best social networks on the Web, including niche social communities as well as those divided by language, nationality or specialty interest. Note that this list does not include dating sites that aren’t about building online social communities. If you’ve used any of these social media networks before and liked them, then vote them up. Also add any social networks you’re using that aren’t already on the list.
So what defines a website or service as a social network? It is typically an online service, platform, or website which is focused largely around uniting individuals and allowing them to communicate and interact. Facebook currently is the world’s largest and most popular social networking platform, having supplanted previous champions such as MySpace and Friendster.
Initially, like Facebook, many of these services were designed around offline interpersonal relationships—allowing you to hang out with friends online when you couldn’t be present in person. However, social networking has exploded as a pastime and form of entertainment in recent years. In fact, 23% of Americans’ total time spent online is now spent on social networks of some kind. This drastic increase in traffic and interest in has led to the development of a vast variety of online social networks.
Some of these social networking sites attempt to distinguish themselves by focusing on one narrow topic or set of interests. (For example, Buzznet, a social network for those who obsess about music and pop culture news, or CauseCast, a portal and social network for activists and those interest in non-profit organizations.) Others concern themselves only with a certain group of people, or nationality (such as BlackPlanet, a social network for African Americans, or Grono.net, an online community for Polish users.) Others have attempted to bring some new technology or organizational strategy to social networking to attempt to break out and find a larger audience. The mobile app Path, for example, limits the number of “friends” or followers that can be attached to an individual profile to 150, rather than the thousands allowed on sites like Facebook. This leads to a greater level of intimacy among the Path communities, and eliminates the fear shared by many Facebook or Google+ users that their personal updates will become matters of public record.
This list gathers together major players in the social networking Web, including the top 100 social media sites in the world. It is an open list, so if you have a favorite social network that isn’t featured, enter it below to make sure it’s included.