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.Some communities – such as – took a different approach by simply having people link to each other via email addresses. In the late 1990s, user profiles became a central feature of social networking sites, allowing users to compile lists of "friends" and search for other users with similar interests.According to the communication theory of uses and gratifications, an increasing number of individuals are looking to the Internet and social media to fulfill cognitive, affective, personal integrative, social integrative, and tension free needs.With Internet technology as a supplement to fulfill needs, it is in turn affecting every day life, including relationships, school, church, entertainment, and family.In the times of breaking news, Twitter users are more likely to stay invested in the story.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.Rob Cover argues that social networking's foundation in Web 2.0, high-speed networking shifts online representation to one which is both visual and relational to other people, complexifying the identity process for younger people and creating new forms of anxiety.According to Boyd and Ellison's (2007) article, "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life", social networking sites share a variety of technical features that allow individuals to: construct a public/semi-public profile, articulate a list of other users that they share a connection with, and view their list of connections within the system.
The variety of stand-alone and built-in social networking services currently available online introduces challenges of definition; however, some common features exist: (such as former school-year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages), and a recommendation system linked to trust.
Studies have indicated that how a person chooses to use social networking can change their feelings of loneliness in either a negative or positive way.
Some companies with mobile workers have encouraged their workers to use social networking to feel connected, educators are using it to keep connected with their students and individuals are benefiting from social networking to keep connect with already close relationships that they've developed under circumstances that would otherwise make it difficult to do so.
Companies are using social media as a way to learn about potential employees' personalities and behavior.
In numerous situations a candidate who might otherwise have been hired has been rejected due to offensive or otherwise unseemly photos or comments posted to social networks or appearing on a newsfeed.