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Social networking websites have exploded in recent years, and can be used to connect people in the virtual world, in both a personal and professional context.
Social networking sites allow registered members to set up personal profiles and then communicate with friends, and, if they choose, not personally known individuals who share their personal interests. Chat sites for teenagers are usually free to join and open to young people and adults (sites such as Facebook have a minimum age limit of 13 for registered users).
A user will have their own homepage, which details their personal details (age, location, marital status, for example) alongside a picture and other details about themselves - the music they like, their favourite movie, the football team they support, etc. They can then utilise their membership to send messages to friends, download games and applications, share photos and music downloads, and chat in real-time.
Users can also join groups, publicise events and invite other users to attend, or start their own blogs. In the case of Facebook and Twitter, they can also provide frequent status updates, broadcasting to those in their networks what they're up to or how they're feeling. Perhaps most importantly, members create a listing of friends which allows them to communicate online and gives mutual access to more private content (such as photos).