Social Networking Sites - Reading Comprehension

Girl on phone with social media chalkboard
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This reading comprehension focuses on social networks. It's followed by key vocabulary relating to social networks and technology and a follow-up quiz to test understanding.

Social Networks

Do the names MySpace, Facebook, Orkut, etc. ring a bell? They probably do because they are some of the most popular sites on the internet today. These sites are all called 'social networking' sites because they help people meet and discuss things online.

Each of these social networking sites has its own strengths: MySpace is especially popular among teenagers, Facebook is popular with college age people, Orkut is especially loved in Brazil, and CyWorld is the site to visit in South Korea. The common thread between all of these social networks is that they provide a place for people to interact, rather than a place to go to read or listen to 'content'.

Web 2.0

Social networks are considered to be web 2.0. What does this mean? To understand this, it's important to understand what the original web did (often called web 1.0). Back in the nineties, the internet - or web - was a place to go to read articles, listen to music, get information, etc. Most people didn't contribute to the sites. They just 'browsed' the sites and took advantage of the information or resources provided. Of course, some people did create their own sites. However, creating a site was difficult.

You needed to know basic HTML coding (the original language the internet uses to 'code' pages). It certainly wasn't something most people wanted to do as it could take hours to get a basic page just right. Things began to get easier when blogs (from web log) were introduced. With blogs, many more people began writing 'posts', as well as commenting on other people's blogs.

MySpace Surprises Everybody

In 2003 a site named MySpace took the internet by storm. It was trying to mimic the most popular features of Friendster, the first social networking site. It quickly became popular among young users and the rest was history. Soon everyone was trying to develop a social networking site. The sites didn't provide 'content' to people, they helped people create, communicate and share what they loved including music, images and videos. They key to the success of these sites is that they provide a platform on which users create the content. This is very different from the beginning of the internet which focused on providing 'content' for people to enjoy.

Key to Success

Relying on users to create content is the key to the success of web 2.0 companies. Besides the social networking sites discussed here, other huge success stories include: Wikipedia, Digg.com and the latest success - Twitter. All of these companies rely on the desire of users to communicate with each other, thereby creating the 'content' that others want to consume.

Key Vocabulary

social network
to ring a bell
site
strength - weakness
common thread
to interact
content
nineties
internet - web
to contribute
to browse a site
to create
code / coding
blog - web log
post
to comment on
to take by storm
to mimic
the rest was history
platform
to consume

Check your understanding with this multiple choice comprehension quiz.