There are now more online accounts than people in the world — 10 billion social-networking and online accounts in 2010, 4.5 billion of them active, according to US-based market analyst In-Stat that monitors social networking websites.
It's a sign of the times. People are interacting with each other more in cyberspace than in person. It's like a reality show playing out in cyberspace as people update their virtual world with stories from the real world — all in real time.
Networking is today much more than just socialising, sharing stories, pictures, jokes, ideas, or establishing business contacts… it's become a way of life. These days, almost everyone from a 10-year-old kid to a 70-year-old grandma has either a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube account — or all.
As online communities communicate and congregate, create, share and discover new content, they are spawning entire new online cultures and sub-cultures across online networks that transcend physical boundaries.
Numbers tell the whole story.
While it took the internet four years to reach 50 million people since its launch, it took Facebook just nine months to add 100 million users. Today, more than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook and the current active user-base stands at over 800 million.
UAE's high rate
While the US ranked number one among Facebook users, the UAE ranked 51st with 2,622,200 active users, but the interesting bit here is the penetration — 52 per cent.
Micro-blogging site Twitter has 106 million accounts as of now with an average of 140 million tweets being sent per day.
Video-sharing behemoth YouTube attracts more than 3 billion page views each day — equivalent of nearly half the world's population watching a YouTube video each day.
As of February 2011, YouTube had 490 million unique users worldwide per month, who rack up an estimated 92 billion page views each month. On average there are more than 400 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link, and on Facebook over 150 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every day.
According to www.pcworld.in,, Google+ has already crossed the 40 million user mark within just two months time. Google+ was initially launched in June 2011, in a beta format, and it only recently opened its doors to the public in September 2011.
On the other hand, LinkedIn which operates the world's largest professional network on the internet boasts of more than 135 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
Networking on the go
Social networking has really taken off in the last couple of years with the merger of mobile technology and networking sites. Mobiles offer an unrivalled ‘right now right there' factor to help show friends and colleagues — who may be ten, hundred or thousands of miles away — your ‘status' at that very moment.
Remember people are out there living their lives - they are not sitting in front of the computer. Why wait till you get home or to office to log onto the computer to tell your friends about that fabulous concert you attended, or your smashing new date?
Out of the 800 million-odd FB users, more than 350 million access it through their phones and, more interestingly, these users are twice as active as non-mobile users.
The Facebook iPhone application remains one of the most popular free apps in Apple app store and on Android Market.
With so much data on your personal and professional life hanging out there, there's always a huge risk of someone stealing it or hacking into it and using it for wrong reasons.
Even as you send out jokes and share links, remember there are bad guys trying to steal or use your personal information for identity theft or fraud through phishing attacks (websites that appear to look like your favourite social networks in order to steal your password or other sensitive information).
Innocuous-looking third-party applications are especially harmful.
Social media is a double-edged sword - it helps people keep in touch, but there is a risk of sensitive information being compromised.
It all boils down to how prudent you are about what you put out - and how careful you are when putting it.
- 40 Millions users as of October 2011 for Google+
- 135 million Linkedin members in over 200 countries
- 3 billion youtube page views each day
- 800 million facebook accounts
- 106 million twittera ccounts