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A social networking service (also social networking site, SNS or social media) is an online platform that is used by people to build social networks or social relations with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections.

The variety of stand-alone and built-in social networking services currently available in the online space introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features: Most social network services are web-based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as by e-mail and instant messaging and online forums.

Social networking sites are varied and they incorporate a range of new information and communication tools such as availability on desktop and laptops, mobile devices such as tablet computers and smartphones, digital photo/video/sharing and "web logging" diary entries online (blogging).

There have been attempts to standardize these services to avoid the need to duplicate entries of friends and interests (see the FOAF standard).

A study reveals that India has recorded world's largest growth in terms of social media users in 2013.

Friendster was followed by My Space and Linked In a year later, and eventually Bebo.

Friendster became very popular in the Pacific Islands.

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, Compu Serve, Chat Net, and The WELL. 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.

Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, digital photos and videos, posts, and inform others about online or real world activities and events with people in their network.

While in-person social networking, such as gathering in a village market to talk about events has existed since the earliest developments of towns, the Web enables people to connect with others who live in different locations, ranging from across a city to across the world.

Orkut became the first popular social networking service in Brazil (although most of its very first users were from the United States) and quickly grew in popularity in India (Madhavan, 2007).

Through e-mail and instant messaging, online communities are created where a gift economy and reciprocal altruism are encouraged through cooperation.

In some cases when the news story is more political, users may be more likely to voice their opinion on a linked Facebook story with a comment or like, while Twitter users will just follow the sites feed and/ or retweet the article.

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