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What are social networks? Definition

All of us who handle an intelligent device, who more and who less, know the concept of “social networks” . Many of us use them out of obligation, others for pleasure and entertainment, there are those who seek to meet other people… Others have not used them yet, either because of age, ignorance or lack of interest, but I assure you that the part of the population that assists the internet in this situation is minimal.

This is because they are the online resource par excellence for communicating fully, quickly and effectively with all types of people . There are more or less complex, general or specific, with different objectives… So, whatever we are and whatever our interests, we always end up in one. Today we will see exactly what social networks are, how they are used and what they entail.

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What are social networks and what are they for on the Internet? Definition

Que es y como funciona las redes sociales

Social networks are platforms on the net whose clear objective is the interaction of people in a social way . They can promote the creation of communities, groups, public or private messaging, the sharing of content…

Many things, but the clear intention is that there should be a social component that allows the network to be even more global and that it should serve to promote a quality, and at the same time a need, of the human being: social contact.


In the first instance, its creation was given by the fact that the media began to converge, gaining a lot of strength Internet, and the technology took another leap, so that was experienced with the interaction between channels .

The origin was at the end of the last century, in 1995, when Classmates.com appeared, which allowed students from older classes to meet with their classmates. Others were Open Diary or SixDegrees.com.


Its expansion took place at the beginning of the millennium , with many sites (even if they barely reached the ears of a few) that allowed several users to communicate in an “open” place. The concept used was “Circles of Friends” .

And the fact is that, taking into account the concept of social network, we see that these appear much earlier than what we consider, because we are not talking about a Facebook or an Instagram but in much more primitive ways as the Websites 2.0 but that, equally, fulfilled their task before these, much more famous and massified, were even in the minds of their creators.

In fact, the massification of the Internet is due precisely to the use of these platforms . Since 2004, Facebook,Flickr, Twitter, Tuenti, Tumbrl, Instagram, Pinterest and a host of other platforms that we all know about have appeared and we are accessing them regularly. It is also from this moment that exponential growth takes place and we can say that networks are a phenomenon .


DebianArt , which I’m sure you’ve heard of, appeared in the year 2000. Others like Friendster got 300,000 users in a single year, something spectacular considering the time. MySpace was another bombshell to the point of being visited more than Google in 2006. Shortly afterwards, LinkedIn appeared, which focused on the social component in the workplace.

As you can see, over a decade, there’s been an evolution. Of course, the amount of users is growing , and very quickly, but, in addition, we see that very specific networks are emerging, focused on satisfying the demands of a particular public , as it is the case of DebianArt, MySpace or LinkedIn itself, three of the oldest social networks and that, at the same time, segmented very much the objective public.

This trend is continuing, with more and more networks, users using many of them, both general and specific to their tastes , and, of course, an exorbitant number of profiles created in all of them. No doubt the RRSS have dismantled the theory of six degrees of separation proposed by Frigyes Karinthy in 1930 by greatly reducing it.

The result is that a social network is for most people, at present, the main way in which the internet is used. We are in the age of communication and the clear example is that social communication platforms are a must for anyone. So much so that we no longer only use them for personal purposes but they have become an invaluable marketing channel for companies .

Infografia Historia evolucion redes sociales en InternetEvolution since 1978-2015

What types of social networks are there and what are their characteristics? Examples

We already know what, on a general level, a social network is. However, these are not all the same, otherwise it would be impossible for as many as we know to succeed. There are all kinds, so that each user, at a domestic level or as the face of a business, chooses those in which they can see their objectives fulfilled or feel more comfortable sharing in society.

Historia redes sociales


They do not have a focus on the type of users ; they all communicate equally, being able, in order to encircle, to create more specific communities. Clear examples are Twitter, Google+ or Facebook .


Contrary to the previous case we have these, which have been designed for a specific public , a particular target, being, therefore, specialized. We have Badoo or MiNube as some of the best known.


They have a general theme of leisure , that is, they seek to address issues related to hobbies and free time. Clear examples are iCheckMovies, Twitch, MySpace…


On the other side we have those with work objectives , with LinkedIn at the head. Thus, users are companies, recruiters, employees and job seekers.


They combine the two previous aspects . they offer users and companies a specific environment to develop both professional and personal activities around their profiles: Yuglo, Unience, PideCita , etc.

University students

They have a university audience and, therefore, the actions are aimed at this , at study, social relations in fraternities, performances in study houses, meetings with other students, talks on issues such as debates on education laws, related events, etc.


The aim is for people to interact; the component is human . They are those that focus their attention on fostering relationships between people by bringing individuals together according to their social profile and according to their tastes, hobbies, workplaces, trips and activities.

Of content

Although, obviously, there will also be interaction between users, this is secondary and is given by the exhibition of content, which is the real protagonist of the site.

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Social news

The aim is for users to contribute news and points of interest through links and for others to give their ideas, make extra contributions, vote if they find the content interesting, etc.


They require the approval of two users in order to be tracked and to have access to certain content or even simply to message each other.


You can follow a user or talk to him without him having to do the same with you . This doesn’t mean that users have to add to each other. This is beneficial for follower or media communities.


The blog, because of the functions and possibilities that are given in the platforms where it is created, is a social network because in it we make our ideas available to others, letting our imagination fly and even use it daily .

Nice and useful conversations are formed in the comments and, finally, you end up with a “little group” of people who read to you every day, creating a small new family. You can make general, more personal blogs, and there are also themed spaces.


Entries are made but of a minimum extension, looking for a continuous interaction . The most mentioned in this case are Tumblr and Twitter.

“Share” of content

You load and share varied content , from the lightest to the longest or heavyest. From the description of these types you will see that many of them cater for more than one use. This is because this classification is not made taking into account only one factor but all of them. So we can find a network of sharing and microblogging , to give an example.

Advantages and disadvantages in the use of RRSS social networks

Of course, from the experience we have and having seen a little better what they are and how they work , we can intuit that there are both advantages and disadvantages of social networks.

Let’s see them but, of course, differentiating between the use at a particular or personal level and as a company with the importance of social media in marketing strategies , it is impossible not to realize that corporations are already a very important part of these sites.


As an individual :

  • You communicate quickly and instantly with others: , both publicly and via private messaging. Messages are sent immediately and there is always someone listening to you, whether it be from your city, your province or from the other side of the planet.
  • You have job opportunities: We’ve already seen that corporations have their place in HR and, of course, they may be looking for a worker exactly like you. You have access to job offers, you link to job portals from their social profiles, you contact recruiters and other workers, you can post your resume and your skills…
  • You entertain yourself : Not otherwise, but information you will find through a tube. These platforms fill you with stimuli, they allow you to know more about the lives of friends, celebrities and even strangers, there are groups for people with similar hobbies, they make you stay, you can watch videos, follow cultural and general interest pages, play all kinds of games that some have, communicate through text, audio, with stickers, with emoticons…
  • Social denouncement: One of the best things they have brought us is the ease with which a social denouncement can be made, making us more aware of and participating in the reality in which we live. Lost animals, unjustified dismissals, police brutality, medical negligence… Everything is recorded and everything is published and, of course, this is the place where most people listen to you. Social awareness is created and solidarity action is also encouraged, whether through events, donations or simply sharing the content.
  • Share: Sharing can be very important, especially for certain users with specific interests. Not only do you share with others, you also enjoy all the information that has come to you.

As a company :

  • Your brand becomes more visible: This allows the user to get a complete picture of you including, in addition to your physical store, your products or your website, your social spaces. Furthermore, you break through those barriers, for example, related to location; you reach everyone.
  • Dissemination of your information: The content of your site will be made known, if you follow a good strategy, from user to user, with no end in sight. You will gain traffic to your site and have more presence on the web, being more available to your clients and future clients.
  • Greater user contact: You will be able to have a better relationship with users at all levels (using your profiles as a customer service channel, sharing ideas that have no place on your website, making yourself known as a person if you wish, building customer loyalty and contacting your target in different ways, to encourage and manage feedback…).
  • Communication with other companies Partnerships and collaborations between brands are very common on these platforms and allow for the sharing of audiences.
  • Metric: The results of your marketing are measurable both by engagement and by the use of specific measurement tools.
  • Analysis of the competition: You can easily keep an eye on what others are doing.


As an individual :

  • Loss of contact with reality: Sometimes, users stop relating to their environment, changing those “social” moments by their activity in networks. Their excessive use also makes us distort reality and believe, more and more, that we are living the life of our profile, giving much more importance than it has to what happens in our virtual world as it has become an addiction for us.
  • Scams: They are very common on these platforms now because they are what you get, just as they used to be done door to door, then by email, etc.
  • Loss of privacy: The exposure we have is tremendous. By doing a quick search we can get, from anyone, full name, address, phone number, pictures of their children, the place where they work, the days they go on vacation and that their house will be empty, their jogging route… We like to show ourselves but this has a negative side and that is that we are simply seen, too much.
  • Perjury in various fields: That exposition of your information, together with your ideals, your projects and your positions can be pleasant for some but also unpleasant for others. Nowadays the first thing a company looks at from a candidate is his presence and behavior in networks so, imagine!
  • Impersonation: It is very easy for anyone to impersonate you, especially if you are giving them all that information, although it is not necessary.
  • Bullying: Without a doubt, an evil that makes it worthwhile for all these platforms to disappear. The users have no measure, the harassment to which others are subjected is immeasurable, the insults are constant, the humiliations, the opinions are uneducated and shameless. Being behind a screen makes us be in a way that we don’t even think about being in front of it. Needless to say, those who use deception to harass minors (grooming).

As a company :

  • Reviews: The criticisms you receive are available to everyone and they become a ball, even shared just as we do with a video. We must not forget that many of them are false, designed by the competition or by a minimally dissatisfied user or simply boring, even without knowing you. We have already seen that we do not have filters behind a screen and we release all kinds of false, hurtful, shameless and unmeasured comments, no matter the repercussion that this may have, or even worse, knowing it and being an active part of the discomfort that we generate, with the consequent damage that this may have for any company.
  • Investment: Having profiles in different social spaces requires time, not only the time we use to be there in the moment helping the client but also the time we need to generate content and, of course, to create conversation, interaction and movement in your pages. In addition, these already have their own marketing resources, which, of course, are not free. You also have to consider that, if you don’t want to invest that time, you will have to pay someone to do it; being everywhere is not free.
  • Confusing profile: It is difficult to put aside our personality and maintain a job profile in an exclusive way. If we don’t, we can let ourselves be seen in a way that doesn’t benefit the brand.

What are the dangers behind the use of social networks for young and not so young people? Security and privacy tips

Seguridad y peligros en las redes sociales

For this point, we will consider that you are a parent or responsible for a minor and you want to inform yourself to share what you said with this one. However, you will see that many of these points can also be related to your use of social networks, as the dangers are not only for the youngest .

Similarly, if you are a minor and you are looking for information about social networks before creating your profiles, do two things, consider these points as if we were talking directly to you, they are very important, and also try to give this information to an adult so they can be the one who teaches you about the virtual society.

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Having said that, we only have to start to analyze in depth each of the dangers , more and less serious, to which we are exposed using social networks. You will see that they are a development of the disadvantages we have seen before regarding the user with personal profiles.


What we publish, whether we are aware of it or not, may turn against us . Even if we have good and healthy intentions, we don’t know who may be watching and analyzing us.

Therefore, there is a lot of information that can put us in danger: the location with the GPS is a nightmare that controls us at every moment, photos of our children, of the place of work or of areas we frequent, of how happy we are with our train or plane ticket in hand, well visible, in the expectation of visiting that city that has always fascinated us,…

Everything we publish can be a weapon that, more than letting people see the life we lead, can serve to make us feel bad. Privacy practically ceases to exist, and the worst thing is that we promote it ourselves .


Sharing our personal information and content may serve, among other things, to enable another person to impersonate us. All you have to do is create a profile and copy your data and upload your content , previously downloaded.

Sometimes this leads to nothing, but on other occasions (the most), there are serious consequences : committing crimes in your name, accessing other personal information of yours with the “credential” of being you, promoting thoughts that are not your own and that make anyone else able to make them yours…

Distorted reality

The virtual world is different from the real one . Many years ago he warned about the danger of Second Life, which made people forget their lives to take care of another one they had created on the net. Something similar is happening now, but in a different way.

The phenomenon of the youtuber (and the influencing) makes followers exposed to a world where advertising and the good life prevail. These people are references for others, who long to have a similar life without knowing that we are not all the same and that, behind all this, there is also a lot of work.

There is also, of course, what these famous people promote, to a greater or lesser extent: spending hours playing computer games, wearing new outfits every day, travelling when we’re bored… Although it’s a very pleasant life, the truth is that is something that corresponds to only a few people, and it’s worrying how the user comes to believe that he is part of that life or that his is worthless because it is so mundane, causing problems of perception, depression…

Another point, without a doubt, is the photographic edition, which does nothing more than enhance that dreaminess that is shown to us and that moves even further away from our reality, which makes us feel infinitely bad, making us want to move away from what we have in order to enjoy what others offer us in networks, favouring addiction.


Both because of what we have just said and for many other reasons, SSRs are addictive. A lot of visual stimuli, the possibility of knowing what others are doing (something we love to know, whether from acquaintances or strangers), the difference between our daily lives and virtual life, anonymity, the fact of having entertainment resources for everything… The capacities that a screen offers us are too many and make us, of course, not want to leave it .

And, of course, it’s not just about being addicted, but about everything that goes with it , such as the loss of attention to other issues because we’re thinking about connecting, the exposure we have every day to accidents on the street because we’re hooked on the phone, and, of course, problems of a psychological nature.

Lost time

Directly derived from the above is the time we are wasting. People’s productivity plummets when we don’t make good use of these platforms.

Of course, these can be part of your life, but only a small one. When we put aside other plans and, of course, when we prioritize their use over work, family or friends, we have a problem; and think about this: that time lost no one is going to give it back to you, ever .


You have to be very careful with strangers. Being popular is the goal of many on the net, and this is measured in number of contacts or followers. This leads us, unfortunately, to accept anyone, who will have access, as we have already seen, to everything we do .

Hate speech

Anonymity; what a danger! Having the right (or believing with it, rather) to say everything that comes into our heads, without filtering anything, can lead to a case of incitement to brutal hatred. Think about how it feels to read your unpleasant words, and, worse, think about what can happen if they lead others to do the same: the feeling multiplies.

What for you can be an outburst or an act of cowardice for knowing that the person will never find you for the one who receives the message can become an ordeal . Every so often a new case of suicide is reported because the person cannot bear hurtful comments given in hundreds or thousands, and that could be you.


Harassment on the networks is common and closely related to the above . You may think that one message does not hurt, but tomorrow you come back and throw another one, and make your friends join in, and then, through social behavior, strangers do it. The result is harassment, deliberate or otherwise, of a person.

Insults and threats are the order of the day, mocking images are uploaded with the sole aim of making fun of someone, we impersonate them and generate hatred so that they are returned to them… There are many ways of doing this, it is a problem that continues to grow on the net despite the strong awareness campaigns that are carried out.


It is the deception of an adult towards a minor, pretending to be another one, with the aim of obtaining from him erotic or sexual material . That is, impersonation seasoned with pederasty.


Is the sharing of sexual content , either through text as audio, video or pictures. There are those who do this without the consent of the other, throwing their sexual content to anyone they want. Other people do it by mutual agreement but let’s remember that, once your content stops being yours, it can end up anywhere.

Unsuitable communities

The creation of virtual communities is very common to share ideas and interests. However, is not all positive. We can find all kinds of themes ; some are not suitable for young people because of their influence, others are not suitable for anyone who is mentally healthy.

Exaltation of violence (general or towards groups), animal abuse, exaltation of obsessive behaviour, both for oneself and towards others, obsession with canons of beauty promoting diseases such as bulimia, apology for suicide… One must know where to go because it is not difficult to end up in places like these.


The great danger of the social networks during these last years and that, fortunately, seems to be decreasing. It is common to record oneself fulfilling certain proposals or challenges that become viral and that, in general, are not exempt from danger . These have taken several lives and destroyed many others so we don’t want to give examples to avoid giving ideas.


It is a c hantaje that often occurs on the network and consists of threats and requests in exchange for not revealing sensitive content , such as sexual or, for example, conversations in which they claim to have committed some illegal action.

To try to avoid this and to solve possible problems that may already be occurring, don’t lose sight of these tips.

Lesson on the platform

The best thing to do before starting to use a social network, whatever it is, is to know how it works, what you will find on it , to have a history of dangerous or alarming cases… .

Make a correct and comprehensive privacy setting

It goes without saying that it is necessary to configure the privacy of the account in the most effective way according to the circumstances . An important part of the previous point is to know the possibilities in this respect : who sees my news, my mentions, the contents I share, the images I appear in, my information, my interests, what I let people see and what I don’t, with what exceptions, if I want search engines to link my profile when someone enters information that matches that shown on my social network and so on.

Use common sense

We play dumb a lot when we’re teenagers, and when we grow up maybe we do too. Don’t be fooled by great opportunities or trust everyone who approaches you. Always try to use your common sense, find out whether or not something makes sense, whatever way it looks, and if it doesn’t, cut to the chase .

Do not share private information

No disclosure of personal information , beyond that which may be harmless. For example, you can reveal your age but it is not advisable to know your date of birth. If you ask me, I wouldn’t even add my full name. Forget about constantly telling what you do, where you are and where you are not, your weaknesses, your methods of contact in networks and so on…

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If this is the case, don’t hesitate to have two profiles , one to make the goat, said badly and soon, and another more serious one, for example, to give to your colleagues, to introduce it in academic profiles, etc.

Neither compromising

Of course, any content that exposes your embarrassments, of whatever kind, should not be shared . Think that what for you is something anecdotal, funny or funny someone else can use to blackmail you or to knock down your image in front of someone else.

Pay attention to people you are in a relationship with

Depending on the age, this is something that many people will not even consider but, in the case of the youngest, it is convenient that an adult has control over the people with whom the child relates on the internet . It would not be out of place to have a way of verifying their identities.

On the other hand, don’t add someone you don’t want to see what you do at RRSS , for example, your boss. If you’re not willing to hide what you’re doing, at least don’t let that speak ill of you to the wrong person.

Make responsible use of these platforms

This implies a lot of things:

  • Limit time , both in quantity and in moments.
  • Prioritise other activities , whether our responsibilities or leisure activities. The virtual world engages, so we must devote our day to day to other things to avoid falling.
  • Be respectful to other people. The “anonymity” of the networks turns us into monsters but, worse than that, someone may end up getting mad at you.
  • Give the correct use to every network and profile you have.
  • Try to use them as more than just a way to pass the time full of visual stimuli.
  • Respect the minimum age and, if not, always use the platform with an adult.
  • Use secure passwords .
  • Don’t link your profiles to financial or sensitive information of any kind ; imagine what it would mean if someone else accessed your account and could see things you have in secret, from password reminders, PayPal accounts, notes and a host of other things that many people make invisible and keep around to keep them handy.

List of the most popular and used social networks in the world and in Spain

Redes sociales mas usadas del mundo por dispositivos

Let’s see, to conclude, which are the social platforms that are most used today, both globally and globally.

  • Facebook : Has over 2.2 billion users currently active and actually allows you to interact with friends and strangers in many ways: with your own chat application, Facebook Menssenger, by uploading to your board your thoughts, poetry or any other idea, photos (where you can tag others, videos…), sharing your favorite places, other people’s content, writing on other people’s wall, mentioning them in your posts and those of others, answering questions so that others can get to know you, making photo albums and even creating your own page, which can have fans, if you have a business, for example.
  • Spotify : The standard Spotify account is completely free. So you don’t have to worry about having to pay anything to create a user. Now, here’s how to proceed with creating a new account on both Android or iOS devices and computers and PCs.
  • yZone : It is the Chinese Facebook and has 645 million users .
  • Vkontakte : It is the same in Russia, where there are also many. It can be enjoyed in 83 languages .
  • YouTube : From your own profile you upload all sorts of videos, including making live shows, filling in your personal information and participating in conversations, as comments on the videos, with other users. Recently it has incorporated new features such as stories, live announcements, etc.
  • WhatsApp : Its beginnings are as a substitute for paid SMS and MMS messaging. However, it has gradually become a worldwide phenomenon, with additions such as stickers, gifs, emoticons, calls and video calls, statuses, stories, group messaging, sending all kinds of files, including freshly recorded audio and video, and images taken on the spot and up to 10 at a time…
  • Telegram : Telegram has been running in parallel to the green icon app for a long time and its wide range of functions reinforces its position as the main tool for communicating with others rather than as an optional feature. Those who know how to create an account in Telegram Messenger and already have it installed, have been able to take advantage of all its benefits.
  • Twitch : It is a place where users, after creating their profile, perform direct. In general, the theme is gamer although we see more and more variety, being common the debates. It is used as a complement to YouTube (by the youtuber) and thanks to this it has managed to rise like the foam, as the creators have dragged their fans. As a spectator, you can subscribe to channels, make donations, chat with other users on a screen where the person doing the live broadcast has access…
  • Instagram : In recent years it has acquired a brutal reputation that makes it one of the leading ones. It is based on the sharing of images although nowadays you can already do direct, sell products tagged on your photos and, of course, write your messages next to your publication and also on the ones of others, receiving, in return, the opinions of others regarding what you upload.
  • DailyMotion : Is on the top of the video sharing websites, with a video playback of 2000 million and an influx of individual visits of more than 100 million per month.
  • Tumblr : It is a worldwide known blogging community and likes it very much because it can be integrated with other social networks.
  • LinkedIn : It is the social network for the worker, with more than 260 million active users. Your profile is a quite visual and complete resume, including something very interesting: the approval of your skills by other users, which is undoubtedly a point to consider by a recruiter. You can add contacts, send private messages, make publications, see job offers… In short, you can create a social environment with a work ethic.
  • Vimeo : It’s a platform similar to YouTube that doesn’t say much here but that in the United States is a blast since its appearance. Its use with YouTube is close since the social networking part that we do on the Google platform there is taken to Vimeo, YouTube being useful in cases where you want to watch a video and nothing else.
  • Snapchat : It is used to upload our photos, having fun by applying infinite effects.
  • Twitter : It is a very well known social network, with 350 million users connecting daily, which is based on the publication of short ideas in which you can mention another user, include links, images, videos… It is not a profile site but a news site, a conversation site.
  • Weiboo : Here we don’t even know it, but in China, which has a considerable population, it is the bomb. It’s a kind of Twitter although it’s completed with some details that we found in Facebook.
  • Reddit : This is a platform whose name is more like that of a forum, even if it is not. Users post information of interest to others by opening threads and communicate among themselves, giving their opinion, providing new contributions, etc. forming a discussion map.
  • Periscope : It is from Twitter and allows users to show streaming videos, i.e. it is for live performances. It was widely used a few years ago, as a main resource in the transmission of events, although it is now maintained as a social network.
  • Skype : It started out as a free way to make calls and has ended up becoming, with the features that have come along with it, a fully-fledged social messaging network. It charms the thirties and onwards because it allows you to keep in touch with those MSN users, as it keeps the credentials and dumps the information. Group calls, SMS, video calls, calls to phone numbers, states, photos, personal information…
  • Tagged : It is a site where youth abounds. The idea is to meet people with common interests and video games have a special role. It already exceeds 100 million records.
  • Viber : An alternative to WhatsApp that is winning fans every day, perhaps because of its strong television advertising campaign.
  • Line : This is a chat application where, in addition to messages, you can make calls and spice up your conversations with resources such as stickers.
  • BeBee : Is a platform that focuses on social relations in the workplace, like Linkedin. It is Spanish and hosts two million workers and future employees.
  • Xing : (was created in 2003 and until November 17, 2006 was called OpenBC) is a professional social network. It is also called an online networking platform, since its main use is to manage contacts and establish new connections between professionals from any sector. This system belongs to what is called social software. One of the main functions it has is the option to visualize the network of contacts.

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